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Trinity's tryst with cable biz ends

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NEW DELHI: Former Star India distribution head Arun Mohan, who had started a cable TV distribution business in 2003, has shuttered it citing unviable business model.

At the same time, Mohan's company, AM Trinity Platco Pvt Ltd, is exploring other business options in the television and cable space, including digital delivery of content.

Confirming to Indiantelevision.com that the cable business has been shut down, Mohan said, "We had to get out of the cable business as our initial premises did not work out. CAS, which was a probability in 2003, did not happen."

Mohan's company, AM Trinity Platco Pvt. Ltd had stitched a 10-year lease management deal with Delhi's Punj family-controlled Spectranet, a multi-system operator (MSO) that has also laid fiber optics in certain parts of the city with plans to offer broadband services. The deal was done in 2003.

Pointing out that the company slowly realized the payout to pay broadcasters was more than the earnings through household subscriptions, he admitted, "This made the business unviable."

Mohan was attempting to build a multi-system operator (MSO) company, starting off with Delhi, in this fragmented and cut-throat Rs. 15,0000 million cable industry.

Trinity's tryst with distribution came to an end with Mohan formally announcing the decision to the company's cable-franchisees few days back, subsequent to which the cable ops hitched up with other MSOs and bigger independents.

The MSO that has gained the maximum in the Delhi region is the Hinduja-controlled INCablenet, which is said to have cornered most of the 25,000-odd households and franchisees being serviced by Trinity.

The deal signed with Spectranet entailed Trinity paying a flat monthly fee for usage of former's infrastructure. Over a period of time, Trinity had acquired about 23 franchisee cable operators, mostly in the up market South and Central Delhi areas.

Spectranet, which started off at a time when the dotcom boom was on and talks of broadband services were being bandied around, has never been a dominant player in Delhi's cable TV scenario.

Meanwhile, according to Mohan, his company is testing waters in Delhi, Rajasthan and another state with a new business model.

Trinity supplies cable ops in these three states with a free compact disc containing five-hour entertainment mish-mash, including movies.

The cable ops air these programmes on their home video network, while Trinity is trying to convince advertisers to be part of the entertainment package through commercial deals.

"It's a concept that needs to be marketed aggressively and presently the advertising is just a trickle. But we are hopeful it would pick up," Mohan admitted.

Trinity has bought the rights of some movies, while snapping up, albeit cheaply, telecast rights of some serials too that were made by a joint venture company promoted by an Indian and Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer.

"Some of these serials have never been aired and we feel they could be marketed," Mohan said, keeping his faith in the television industry still intact.

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