ANIMAL PLANET MISSES
Animal Planet failed to meet its 5
January launch date as a 24-hour service in India.
The channel is a joint venture between Discovery and
BBC World Television and is already available in a
preview mode on state-owned broadcaster DD.
Discovery Communications India (DCI) managing director
Kiran Karnik says the launch date couldn't be met
as the first batch of digital decoders have been held
up with the Delhi Customs' authorities.
"They are the same Scientific Atlanta decoders that
Sony brought in for its AXN channel from another city
and they were cleared there," says Karnik. "We've
explained this to the Delhi Customs but they have
been very cautious. Our receivers are for C-band and
not Ku-band transmission, which is currently not allowed.
But they've not moved on clearing them. Then we've
had the holidays during Christmas and New Year, which
has pushed things back quite a bit. It is unfortunate
that such procedural problems occur at various stages
of launching a television channel."
Karnik says the decoders are slated to enter India
in batches, the first one running into hundreds will
get Animal Planet a penetration of 4 million in the
The DCI team has hired additional staff
in the past two months to help distribute the channel.
Animal Planet will initially be distributed free to
cable operators. However, it is expected to become
a basic subscription service after a few months.
For the moment, however, Karnik hopes
the channel will be up and running by 26 January.
"I'm keeping my fingers crossed," he says. "We launched
Discovery on 15 August, India's Independence Day.
We hope to launch Animal Planet on the Indian Republic