Pogo goes pay from 1 November

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: Pogo, the Cartoon Network's sibling kids' channel from the Turner stable, has gone pay from 1 November. The monthly maximum retail price is fixed at Rs 10 per month.

Pogo, which as per company estimates is beaming across 17 millions homes, was a digitally encrypted channel but was available free till now.

Confirming this move, Siddharth Jain, new CEO of Zee-Turner Ltd, which distributes Pogo in India, said, "We are very clear that we want to keep the price at a realistic level, while continuing to provide quality content to the viewers."

According to him, "The introduction of Rs 10 will include a distribution margin for the cable operators."

Pogo is distributed by Zee-Turner, a Time Warner and Zee Telefilms Ltd joint venture as a stand-alone channel and will not be packaged along with other bouquet channels. Zee-Turner's comprehensive bouquet comprises 25 channels.

Keeping in mind the distribution cost involved at every level, an attempt has been made to safeguard the business interest of the cable affiliates, Jain said, claiming that , probably, this is the first time that a broadcaster is sharing distribution margins with the cable operators.

"We hope, this price arrangement would ensure that the broadcaster gets a fair share of the consumer spend," Jain said, hinting that such a move should arrest the trend of rampant under-declaration in the broadcast and cable industry.

Though Jain was not forthcoming on the dealer margin, a company source said that the maximum retail price of Pogo has been pegged at Rs 10, but an effective rate of Rs 6 will be charged from subscribers.

This would also mean that Zee Turner would have to spin out a different distribution strategy for Pogo as it will be distributed and marketed amongst cable ops as a standalone channel owing to a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India recommendation that new pay channels couldn't form part of existing distribution bouquets after a price freeze was put in place from 26 December, 2003.

Pogo joins Hungama TV in an environment which is increasingly going to be tough for pay television. Hungama TV, distributed by Star India and priced at Rs 6 a month per subscriber, is according to industry reports already seeing a slip in carriage after the launch of Star One.

Pogo is distributed by Zee-Turner, a Time Warner and Zee Telefilms Ltd joint venture. Launched on 1 January 2004, the channel has content specially designed for Indian audiences like Tiny TV, Prime Pogo and Family Movie Zone. Pogo will double its Hindi language content to 80 per cent by the end of the year.

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