Siticable aims to unveil HITS model in April

MUMBAI: Zee Group cable arm Siticable is planning to unveil its HITS (headend in the sky) model in April.

Zee also plans to leverage some kind of a complete forward and backward integration by effectively using its Agrani satellite at the right time - scheduled for an early 2004 launch.

Siticable officials say HITS will provide a win-win proposition for the local cable operators (LCOs) and last mile operators (LMOs). Siticable's format involves giving due weightage to the LMOs and LCOs by empowering them to collect the pay TV monies from the consumers post CAS.

The model also proposes a 50:50 sharing of the basic tier revenues between the HITS (headend in the sky) operator and the LMOs. Siti's HITS plan envisages pay tier revenues being shared between the various constituents with satellite channels retaining 40 per cent of the total. Siticable only envisages that the broadcasters, MSOs and LMOs/LCOs have a 33.33 per cent share in the HITS operation. 

LCOs and LMOs opting for Siti's HITS plan will need to invest in four transmodulators of Rs 80,000 each for 40 channels. Siticable has also assured the LMOs and LCOs that it would provide digital STBs (DVB-C) at Rs 6,000-8,000 for the basic non-interactive versions.

According to a senior Siti executive: "Cable operators are likely to accept it (HITS) faster as it will save them the cost of headend upgradation to accommodate the growing number of channels and they will also save the cost of installing CA for their individual headends."

Siti's proposed system will be scalable in terms of its ability to migrate from analog to digital HITS once the 15 per cent penetration is achieved per headend, he says. The service will be available on Asiasat-3. Zee's bouquet of 17 channels will be made available to Siticable partners.

According to a blueprint of the headend in the sky proposal, prepared by Siti Cable, if necessary permissions come through then at a later stage the 

subscriber, through the set top box, can have a new service or go in for a change in his service mix by calling up a toll free number connecting to the subscriber management system (SMS) and log in his request.

The subscriber management center gives a message to the `turnaround' center and executes the request through a data controller. The billing is generated by SMS and sent 

to subscriber through designated means.

It is also envisaged that once Subhash Chandra's Agrani satellite becomes operative, it will be used extensively for this purpose. The fact that its own satellite is available means Zee and Siticable won't have to make the huge investment which others might have to undertake. The cost saving works out to Rs 2 million per channel. Therefore if for a 40 channel package that's a saving of Rs 160 million, says the official. 

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