| 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.