Pricing major concern for consumers: NFO survey

NEW DELHI: How does the consumer perceive the conditional access regime? Is he ready for CAS? Questions, notwithstanding - the crux of the I&B Ministry-NFO Survey - monthly CAS payout is the over-riding concern for consumers.

Costs for the set-top-box and having to shell out separately for each channel - emerged 'worrisome' issues for many - at least in Kolkata and Delhi and to some extent in Mumbai. Chennai seemed least rattled.

It is likely that most in Chennai would switch-over to CAS as soon as implemented, the other three metros seemed a mixed lot. An equal number would convert to CAS, while others mentioned waiting one to maximum three months- before making the switch-over. Majority find CAS acceptable in principle, but would like to know more about it.

Interestingly, across metros most consumers would prefer purchasing a set-top-box as opposed to hiring one. The unanimous view across metros is that STB should be priced below Rs 2,000 or if at a monthly rental for an austere Rs 50 per month.

Regarding advantages of CAS - consumers were buoyant with the thought of paying only for channels they would like to watch-some terming it as "the right to choose" and the "freedom to choose" -manifested as transfer of power from the cable-operators hands to the consumer.

The survey was conducted across all socio-economic-classifications A, B, C, D and E, essentially among chief-wage-earners and housewives. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2003 and confined to areas 'earmarked' for phase 1 roll-out, which means Chennai was completely covered and for other metros restricted to areas as per the CAS notification. Methodology adopted was quantitative using a structured questionnaire with a mix of closed and open-end ones. NFO interviewed a total sample base of 2,000 respondents.

Majority of the households surveyed own single television sets. And close to 30 per cent Kolkata homes own a black and white television set. While most homes could actually receive close to one hundred channels on their TV sets - most actually received only close to 30 channels.

The survey also covered consumers' view on how much they would like to pay for each channel - across genres. Consumers were also asked if they watched advertisements and if they would pay more if ads were curtailed. Interestingly, while most watched ads - consumers seemed least affected with advts being taken off the air there were not ready to incur any additional monetary load.

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