Television

Cricket: Sahara One encrypts signals

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MUMBAI: Sahara One has become an encrypted channel even as it has bagged the cricket telecast rights for the India-England series.

The reason: the telecast signals can't travel outside the Indian territory. Nimbus Sport has sold the rights to different broadcasters for separate territories across the world.

"We have barred Sahara One signals to other countries since we have the telecast rights for the Indian territory only. However, this is a temporary arrangement till the series is over in mid-April," said Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd CEO Shantanou Aditya.

According to information available with Indiantelevision.com, Sahara One is using the decoder boxes of sister channel Filmy, which is encrypted and was launched on 12 February. This is an emergency measure seen to hasten the penetration of the channel so that viewers can watch the cricket series. Sahara is also rapidly seeding new decoder boxes across the country.

So will Sahara One's connectivity suffer? "Sahara One is available in all the cable networks across the country as an encrypted signal," says Aditya.

Cable TV operators, however, feel there is loss in connectivity of the channel. "They are swapping the Filmy boxes while simultaneously seeding new ones. But Filmy itself is a newly-launched channel and has a lot of ground to cover," says a senior executive of a leading multi system operator (MSO). The second Test match kicks off on 9 March.

Sources say Filmy has already seeded over 1,000 decoder boxes. Some cable networks, which have been carrying Filmy, have found no problem accommodating Sahara One as an encrypted channel.

"We are showing Sahara One across our network," says Hathway Cable & Datacom CEO K Jayaraman.

The problem for Sahara is to quickly move into those networks where no decoder boxes have been seeded. "If they organise themselves, the channel can cover up connectivity across the country in the next four-five days, at least in all the top 500 towns. It will be a difficult task but is possible. Cable operators are, after all, asking for the boxes," says the senior executive.

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