Television

Bid to educate viewers about CAS: Star, Sony, ESS consent, Zee opts out

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NEW DELHI: Conditional access system is forcing various stakeholders of the industry to go in for initiatives that were not on the top of their priority list. Educating the average cable consumers about CAS is one such move.

 

According to industry sources, Rupert Murdoch's pan-Asian television venture, Star, has initiated a move, along with Sony Entertainment TV, to air promos featuring popular soap characters in a bid to educate the consumer about the changing scenario.



The reluctance of an average Indian cable consumer to go in for a change and cough up additional money from what he is already doing so is something that is worrying broadcasters, especially those running pay channels.



The sources said that in meetings that were held in Mumbai - attended by Star India, Sony, Modi Entertainment Network (that looks after the distribution of channels like Ten Sports, Fashion TV and Hallmark) - in the recent past, it was decided to educate the cable consumer about various aspects of CAS. These aspects include the fact that set-top boxes would be needed to access pay channels post CAS, the probable pricing structure and the cost of the box.



The idea is to have these promos featuring popular actors and actresses from serials like Kyunki Saas., Kkusum, Heena and some film actresses too exhorting viewers to 'continue the beautiful relationship' they have had with these characters in the future also and buy boxes in a post CAS regime, the sources said.



However, the Subhash Chandra-promoted Zee Telefilms or its sister concerns like Siti Cable are not part of this move. "The offer was made to Zee/Siti Cable too to join us, but for reasons best known to them the offer was turned down,"a source in the Star-Sony alliance said. Siti Cable, or its parent company Zee, refused to comment on the development.



The promos are to be run across Star, ESPN-Star and Sony channels and are likely to be put on air soon. Some of the promos are ready, according to the sources.



But, the question that the industry is asking: wasn't it the duty of the government also to help in this educating process? To be fair to the government, it did bring out advertisements on CAS in the newspapers sometime back, but very few must have noticed them. Reason: the advertisements looked and read like tender notices that are regularly put out by the government and were unimaginative enough not to attract readers.



"What the government and the broadcast industry need to do is to go in for a planned and joint media blitz for a short period of time, at least, to educate and tell an average Indian cable subscriber about conditional access and issues related to it in a professional manner," said a senior executive of an advertising firm that has worked with the government in the past on several projects like voluntary declaration of income scheme.



The education process gains importance as the cable subscriber is getting contradictory signals from different stakeholders of the industry and is confused about the status of CAS.



The confusion is confounded by facts like attempts to form separate bouquets of pay channels to suit the pocket of the consumer.



Recently, Star, Sony and some other channels came up with a proposal to have several tiers in a post CAS regime (also read the proposed pricing structure), a move that the media has reported on but which has only resulted in confusing the consumer even more.

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