Zee's Dish DTH service to have 100 channels by April-end

NEW DELHI: Having managed to gain a toehold in the market, Dish TV, the first KU-band DTH service in the country, is now looking at expanding its market share through some aggressive marketing and wooing of subscribers by almost doubling the number of channels available on the platform.

Dish TV is all set to add 50 more channels to the platform taking the tally to 100 by April end. Contacted by indiantelevision.com, Essel Group spokesperson Ashish Kaul confirmed the development.

Dish TV is the brand name under which Subhash Chandra's companies, ASC Enterprises Ltd. (the licence holder) and Zee Telefilms (responsible for implementation) have launched the DTH service. A new entity, called New Era Entertainment, too has been formed to look after the marketing of the service.

At present, a Dish TV subscriber gets 50 channels with ESPN and Star Sports being the last two channels to be added to the list last month. The other channels are pre-dominantly from the Zee Turner bouquet with Dish TV leveraging Zee Telefilms vast film library by launching several movie channels on the DTH platform, including Zee Classic (old Hindi films), FX Movies (English action movies), Premier Movies and Smile TV (mostly comedy-oriented sitcoms and films).

Though aggressive marketing has not been a USP of Dish TV till now, but with the addition of new channels from April end, a marketing blitzkrieg has also been lined up to beef up the overall communication and marketing strategy.

However, with the introduction of two sports channel on the DTH platform, the monthly subscription for Dish TV too would see a hike to approximately Rs 220 from the existing Rs 100 per month.

At the moment, the Dish TV service is beamed via transponders on Insat satellites. But with the commissioning of ASC Enterprises own satellite under the Agrani project, slated for later this year the platform is expected to move on to Agrani. In the Agrani project, global majors Alcatel and Arianespace together have 13 per cent equity stake in Agrani satellite Services Ltd., a subsidiary of ASC Enterprises Ltd. Having invested close to $ 20 million. The deal with Arianespace was signed in 2002.

The Agrani satellite project is estimated to cost around Rs 11.5 billion, including pre-operative costs and finance costs. Financial institutions and banks have committed Rs 6.500 billion debt for the project with a 1.4:1 debt equity ratio.

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