MUMBAI: The Indian government last year raised the import duties of set top boxes (STBs) from five per cent to 10 per cent in a bid to encourage Indian entrepreneurs to start making them indigenously. To no avail, Indian MSOs, DTH players, continued importing the boxes from China, Korea and Taiwan to meet the government mandate of digitising India's cable TV sector.
At least one player yesterday announced that it had taken up the gauntlet: electronics major Videocon Industries. Director Anirudh Dhoot told Press Trust of India that his company is planning to set up a one million STB manufacturing plant by end-2014. Dhoot told PTI that the plant is likely to be set up in either Punjab or Madhya Pradesh.
The Videocon group also runs Videocon d2h - one of the fastest growing DTH players in India.
The digitisation of cable TV in phase III and phase IV towns is expected to require around 80 million STBs; of which 60 million will likely be rolled out this year itself, totting up to a business potential of an estimated Rs 7,500 crore at factory prices. The second and third phases of digitisation are scheduled to be completed by end 2014, but everyone in the industry expects a delay of about three to six months. If Videocon manages to get its plant to start churning out STBs by end this year, it could meet some of that demand.
The Indian cable TV industry has deployed around 22 million STBs during the first and second phase of digitisation; even as DTH players have deployed around 45-50 million STBs collectively over the years since DTH launched in India.
Most of these were imports. Videocon, on its part, upped the capacity at its existing STB plant from 700,000 per annum to one million during the festival season last year. Now it plans to set up a new plant. Other players who are involved in the manufacture of STBs domestically include: Noida-based Dixon Technologies and Kortek Electronics.