Television

Siticable ties up with bank for STB consumer financing, says it is geared up for CAS

NEW DELHI: Pushing ahead aggressively with its headend in the sky (HITS) and direct-to-home (DTH) television projects, Siti Cable has tied up with the United Bank of India (UBI) for attractive financing schemes for set-top boxes (STBs) for consumers.

"We have tied up with the bank so as to make it easy for the consumers to acquire a set-top box that would be required when conditional access system is rolled out in the four metros in the country," Zee Telefilms vice chairman Jawahar Goel said during a demonstration of the various facilities of a digital STB organized Siti Cable here.

Siti Cable, which is headed by Goel and is implementing its HITS and DTH projects, is the cable subsidiary of the Subhash Chandra-promoted Zee Telefilms.

There are three categories of the financing scheme that entails paying a monthly premium of Rs 34.50 for every Rs. 1,000, Rs 34 for every Rs. 1,000 and Rs 33 for every Rs. 1,000 to the bank after an upfront payment, equivalent to 20 per cent of the cost of an STB, has been made by the consumer.

According to details available with indiantelevision.com, the first category is for a single borrower, the second one is when the spouse is also made a party to the borrowing and the third category,with the cheapest monthly outgo, is when the consumer has pledged some collaterals, including National Saving Certificates to the bank as part of the long-term deposits.

Since the Conax STB being peddled by Siti Cable would cost up to Rs 2,990, after the early bird scheme is over, the bank’s financing period would be over a period of three years.

Meanwhile, out of the 35 listed key features of a digital STB demonstrated by Siti Cable in Delhi, some of the main ones are an electronic programming guide, parental lock, FM and satellite radio, favourite channel selection, teletext, sub-titling facility, gaming, bill payment facility, ending SMS even without a mobile handset and automatic programme installation.

"Though the facilities like SMS and gaming (subject to various state government's okay) would not be there when we start our HITS project, as time goes by we’d introduce these features as also teletext for news on all channels on the platform," Goel said.

Siti Cable is initiating conditional access system through its HITS project from 1 September as per the government's schedule.

Asked whether non-Zee Turner channels would also be on the HITS platform, Goel, without naming other broadcasters like Star and Sony, said that lawyers from both sides are in talks to fianlise details, including the pricing and marketing mechanism.

"We are negotiating with other pay broadcasters for both our HITS and DTH platform (slated to be commissioned along with CAS). Since the marketing mechanism of a DTH would be different from that of HITS, the pricing structure also would be different and have to be negotiated separately," Goel said.

Though Sony has not made any public statement on Zee’s HITS platform, Star India's management has in the past said that they’d have to see whether Star channels can be "given for any Zee-promoted platform."

According to Goel, the company is rolling out an education programme targeted at both cable operators in the three metros along with experts from NIS, a firm specializing in imparting education about marketing. Goel also pointed out that according to his estimates about a million STBs would be needed in the first phase of area-wise rollout of CAS in the four metros.

Incidentally, Siti Cable has placed orders for 500,000 STBs, out of which 50,000 have already arrived in India and 80,000 boxes have been dispatched by the Korean manufacturers.

A younger brother of Chandra, Goel said within a short period of time boxes would start getting manufactured in India and , in this regard, the company is negotiating for a technical tie-up for local manufacturing.

Finally, he announced that the group is ready for CAS with most of the backend job being completed.

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