Television

"Space TV is bullish on the Indian pay TV market and expects it to grow rapidly" : Vikram Kaushik - Space TV CEO

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Space TV CEO Vikram Kaushik is a cautious person and knowing the controversial nature of the the company's proposed DTH venture, he's been extra cautious. A true hallmark of the house of the Tatas, the 80 per cent partner in the venture. The remanining is held by the Rupert Murdoch-controlled Star Group.

In what, probably, is his first formal interaction with the media on the DTH venture after Space got a letter of intent from the I&B ministry earlier this month, Kaushik answers some posers put forward by Indiantelevision.com's Manisha Bhattacharjee.

Excerpts:

The current penetration of DTH in the country is just under 1 million subs. What is your take on this industry?



Space TV is very bullish on the Indian pay television market and expects it to grow rapidly. The size of the DTH market in 2006 is entirely dependent on subscriber acceptance of the new platforms.

Hong Kong-based Media Partners Asia has projected 7.2. million subscribers by 2010. Does that fit into your own estimates?



Industry estimates vary widely. The MPA estimates seem to be conservative.

Content is important to drive a DTH service. In the Indian context, what do you see as a key driver?



The product is being designed keeping in mind Indian subscribers, while meeting the regulations laid down by the government of India. Subscribers of our service will be able to enjoy the best of cable channels in digital quality picture and sound. In addition, we will offer some new channels and exciting interactive services. These will be seen as a substantial improvement over the existing cable service

Another differentiator of our platform will be superior customer-service. This will be delivered through nationwide sales and service network and 24/7 call centres.

Is Space TV looking at offering a tiered service?



Since, this is an evolving industry, details of our service will be decided and announced closer to the time of launch. The service packaging will be done keeping in mind subscriber interest.

What sort of channels is Space TV looking at bringing on to the DTH platform apart from the existing Star channels? How many channels in the first phase?



Subscribers of our service will be able to enjoy the best of cable channels in digital quality picture and sound. In addition, we will offer some new channels and exciting interactive services. Specific details will be shared later.

Are the distribution, installation and marketing and sales teams in place?



Key functional heads, including international talent, have been in place for a while.

'Brand name will be revealed closer to the launch'

Where would be the main distribution center be based and which are the target areas in the first phase of launch?



We will be able to share these details closer to launch.

Space TV has booked 10 transponders on an Insat - 4 series satellite that launches in September? Would a delay in the new satellite's launch also delay the DTH service or are there alternatives?



Our satellite plan has been finalized in accordance with the regulations laid down by government of India. Our satellite partner has been selected. We will be making an announcement on this shortly.

(According to DTH guidelines, all service providers should uplink from India within a stipulated period of time if doing so from outside. Also, using an Indian satellites is advisable.)

Do you think as a result of competition in the broadcast industry, the prices of a DTH service will drop?



We will offer the hardware at the most competitive price to the subscribers. Price reductions, as they come will be passed on to the subscribers.

One reason that Zee?s Dish TV has not been able to really take off has been the refusal of the Star Network, Sony and some other channels to come on board. One would expect that Zee would adopt a similar stance with Space TV. What's your take on this?



Space TV?s endeavor is to get all existing popular channels on its platform. We are at various stages of discussions with all major broadcasters in this regard.

Do you think sector regulator's mandate on must provide robs a DTH platform of the exclusivity factor?



It is our endeavour to abide by all the rules laid down by the government both in letter and spirit.

Will the DTH service be marketed and promoted under the Space TV brand name or some other name has been shortlisted?



The brand name will be revealed closer to the launch.

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