Television

Hindujas' expecting smooth CAS rollout

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MUMBAI: The final session of the SCaT workshop on Wednesday had an optimistic note to it. The session was presided over by IndusInd Media and Communications COO Rajiv Vyas who spoke on InCable's strategy, the future of cable TV as well as CAS benefits.

 

Vyas said that InCable would be deploying digital set tops in Mumbai and Delhi but declined to comment on the number of boxes that would be seeded. "The value proposition has to be right and marketed properly." He estimated that the price for the FTA channels would be anything between Rs 50 - 100. The government has to still set a limit to the number of FTA channels and it might also decide what genres should go in.



He estimated that there would be 35 - 40 FTA channels. As far as pay channels are concerned, while there would be differential pricing between the driver channels and the not so hot ones he didn't feel that any channel which is now pay would go free in the CAS regime. " Of course, the big question still remains as to who will be able to get the most from the consumers pocket. The pay channels or those that are free to air," Vyas said.



While an analogue box will carry only 64 channels, a digital set top can carry over 300 channels. It was also pointed out that there were many channels from other countries like China and Japan that a cable op can offer a subscriber who has gone digital. " Comparing an analogue box to a digital one is like comparing a VHS to a DVD. The consumer who goes in for a analogue box now will have to suffer the price of reinvesting for a digital box later on if he wants extra services."



Elaborating on the benefits of CAS he said, "The operator enjoys longevity and additional revenue streams. The broadcaster gets complete declaration in connectivity while the consumer will enjoy superior sound and picture quality. He also pays only for those channels that he gets instead of being saddled with a whole bouquet. As far as additional services are concerned, in a month or so, we will be introducing video mail and voice mail."



Elaborating further on the set top box rollout, he said, "We operate 104 channels at the moment. This number will increase. To give an example, education is going to be an important sphere with the number of channels catering to that segment set to explode to around 30. We have a two-way addressability system in most places. There is a gap but some services do not require a reverse path. Anyway the cost for two-way amplifiers for the last mile has come down drastically."



"Services that a digital subscriber can enjoy include the Electronic Programme Guide and Video-on-demand. For the last one, the viewer selects a programme, which will be sent to a particular channel. The subscriber can watch it at his/her convenience and so there is no need to visit the local video store. 



The sound will come from the server. Also archived footage from events like sports broadcasts will be made available. The EPG makes it easier for the consumer to navigate and find out exactly what is needed. There is a reminder service. Parents can restrict content that their kids have access to. Of course digital broadcast will mean greater interactivity between the operator and subscriber. The subscriber will also have different gaming modes to choose from."



Despite fears that in a CAS regime, viewers would have to shell out far more for much less he maintained that CAS was consumer friendly. Vyas also said that due to research he was confident that the MSO would not face consumer resistance. One could buy a set top outright or hire it.



He was highly optimistic of convergence becoming a reality. For instance on a mobile phone in the near future you would be able to make calls, send emails, view television, Vyas pointed out.

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