Interview with ASC Enterprises Ltd group president and CEO Punit Goenka

"Fact that we have over 100,000 subscribers shows that people don't just want to see the so-called popular channels "

Posted on 11 March 2004

Punit Goenka is the group president and the CEO of ASC Enterprises LTD, the company that has the credit for being the first DTH licence holder in India. In his early 30s, Goenka also happens to be the eldest son of media baron Subhash Chandra, but prefers to keep a low profile.

After having being one of the persons in the ASC/Zee Telefilms combine to be instrumental in launching the country's first KU-band DTH service, Dish TV, Goenka today quietly works away startegising the expansion of the service from his Mumbai office.

Taking some time off from his busy schedule, Goenka answers few questions posed by in Delhi on Dish TV and DTH, in general. Excerpts:


How do you view the ASC-Zee combine's DTH service as of today?
After a soft launch of Dish TV in October '03, the response has been more than encouraging. We see a very healthy growth in the number of subscribers.


Don't you feel that the marketing of the service is very lax as also the after sales service?
After the soft launch of DTH, it continues to be devoid of any
marketing blitzkrieg. A full- fledged marketing campaign will commence in the second quarter of this year. So far, the effort has been to establish an on-ground network.


Considering Dish TV's service doesn't have other popular entertainment channels, why do you think people would look at it as an alternative to cable or any other services?
Dish TV's current focus is rural India and our objective is to deliver entertainment to the masses. The fact that we have over 100,000 (one lakh) subscribers, that too without a marketing blitzkrieg, is a reflection in itself that people don't just want to see the so-called popular channels that you are referring to. DTH is not an alternative to cable as both will coexist and compliment each other in a country like India.


What sort of market do you feel DTH has in a country like India and what percentage of the TV market a DTH service is likely to corner, say, in a year's time after being launched?
In a vast and diverse country like India, DTH plays an important role in catering to cable starved areas, which in itself is a huge market. In the metros and affluent belts, DTH will cater to the needs of subscribers who seek top quality transmission and value added features absent in conventional cable delivered system.

"DTH is not an alternative to cable as both will coexist and compliment each other in a country like India"

What is Dish TV's target, subscriber-wise, for the first year and looking at it on a long term basis in five years time?
Dish TV is targeting 2 per cent of the C&S homes in the first year and up to five to six per cent of TV homes in five years time.


How much of investment is being lined up in the future in the DTH venture?
We have earmarked another Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) for expansion.


Do you think that increasing competition between the proposed Tata-Star promoted DTH service and that of ASC-Zee combine would result in better service for consumers or create more problems?
Competition does no harm to anyone. In fact, competition helps the market grow and ultimately the consumer benefits.


Do you agree with the criticism of News Corp (Star's parent company) that Zee/ASC's DTH service is of no substance and the Murdoch company, in association with the Indian partner, would unleash the real stuff?
I would rather let the numbers do the speaking.


Do you think those policy guidelines relating to DTH, including annual revenue sharing with the government, need to be liberalized further?
DTH is in its infancy in India. I think a positive beginning has been
made and now this industry needs to be nurtured.

Picture courtesy: Sanjay Sharma/Indiapix Networks

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