Thema targeting cable delivery in India

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: European broadcaster Thema TV, which has five channels in its stable, is targeting India and Asia aggressively through DTH and cable platforms and has lined up Baby TV and lifestyle channel Wine TV for launch later this year.

According to a senior executive of the France-based Thema TV, "India seems to be an exciting market and we would be looking at being available on the DTH platform(s) as well as cable networks here."

At present in India, Thema TV has a non-exclusive distribution agreement for Trace MCM, Euro News and Euro Sports News with Dish TV, which is 20 per cent owned by Zee Telefilms. Trace MCM, the urban music channel, was launched recently via Dish TV.

The Thema TV executive, in Delhi for the formal launch of EuroNews on Dish TV's DTH platform on Tuesday, added that though the Indian cable TV market looks a bit "fragmented and complex," has the potential generating revenue.

"For the time being, we are looking at investing in Asia and India region. We expect revenues to flow in later," he added.

In this regard, Thema is open to the idea of setting up a formal office in India for marketing and distribution purpose in partnership with Indian partner(s). "We are studying the options," the company executive explained.

In a bid to test the Indian market ---- "even if we manage to get a small slice of the cable TV market here" ---- Thema TV is poised to launch Wine TV in July via Thaicom 3 and later Baby TV in an encrypted form for cable ops to pick up the signals.

Though Thema TV and EuroNews senior execs insisted talks are on with Indian cable networks for carriage of Euro News on cable networks as a pay channel, some cable ops, present at the launch party at the French Embassy in Delhi, clarified that they would not be interested in another pay channel, especially when "bandwidth and infrastructure is limited."

However, Thema TV, a tripartite venture amongst two European media companies and a France-based entrepreneur, who holds 80 per cent equity stake in this less- than-a-year-old company, is excited about the fact that Baby TV, a channel designed for pre-school kids, would definitely have a "market in Asia, especially in a country like India."

Interestingly, Thema is exploring possibilities of being available on other DTH services as and when they come up in India, including Space TV and Sun group's proposed direct broadcast service. But Indian pubcaster Doordarshan's subscription less DTH platform, DD Direct Plus, is still not on the European broadcaster's radar screen, despite it being "an interesting concept."

Meanwhile, EuroNews is hoping that it would be able to make a dent in the Asian market where it has invested till now close to half a million dollar, mostly on transponder lease cost.

EuroNews is Europe's news channel covering world news from a European perspective in a choice of seven languages. It broadcasts simultaneously in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Launched on 1 January 1993, as the first multilingual pan-European news channel, EuroNews claims to be reaching 155 million households in Europe, The Middle East, Africa, Asia and North and South America via cable, digital satellite and through terrestrial channels.

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