Siti to offer 55+ channels in FTA tier; Hathway announces STB scheme

NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: SitiCable, the cable arm of the Subhash Chandra-promoted Zee Telefilms, today announced that it has restructured its scheme for set-top boxes following yesterday's slashing of customs duty on the boxes. The Star India-backed and Rajan Raheja promoted MSO Hathway Datacom did likewise.

According to a SitiCable statement, viewers wishing to buy boxes before 31 July could purchase it from the franchisees of SitiCable at the rate of Rs 2,750 (excluding local taxes). The rental has been reworked to 60 paise per day, as reported by yesterday.

The statement further says that SitiCable, through its franchisees, will provide between 55 to 60 FTA channels to subscribers as part of the basic tier of cable service.

Hathway, meanwhile, has also announced an "early bird" plan which offers digital STBs at a refundable security deposit of Rs 999/- plus a daily rent of Re 1. The Hathway rent plan is almost identical to that offered by Hinduja Group MSO INCableNet except that in the latter case the deposit is not refundable.

Hathway also has a "regular scheme" which offers STBs at a refundable deposit of Rs2600 and a rental charge of 60 paise per day.

Hathway has however, not clarified the time frame when the two schemes are applicable. Details on when the "early bird" scheme is valid and when the "regular" one takes effect are yet to be announced.

The STBs offered will be fully functional smart card based digital boxes with remote. The boxes will be procured from Humax in Korea and will have enhanced featured like EPG (electronic programming guide), and capability to handle Interactive Channels. The STBs can provide up to 600 channels in digital quality with stereophonic sound capability.

Hathway is set to roll out its CAS in the three metros of Mumbai, Delhi & Chennai. Hathway's subscriber management system for CAS will be provided by News Corp technology arm NDS. For digital compression and delivery of channels Hathway has chosen Scientific Atlanta.

The Indian government yesterday announced that the customs duty on STBs' import has been brought down to 5 per cent from round 52 per cent, which included other duties as well like countervailing duty. The "summer special discount" from the government to the cable consumers of the four metros of Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai: buy set-top boxes before 31 July and get up to 45 per cent discount on the computed price of the box.

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