the Ficci SCaT India 2003 conference on the Indian cable and satellite
sector held in Mumbai on Thursday, Dasgupta said his appointment
highlighted the fact that Ficci now recognises the television sector
as a significant part of the entertainment industry.
His aim, he said, would be to increase government involvement in
industry's views and to facilitate the faster rollout of various
services that would enable revenue growth in the industry in a major
Industry growth, he noted, be it ground distribution, home distribution,
broadband or telephony, would have to be systematic to benefit all
parties concerned, else it would end up as chaotic as the implementation
of conditional access system (CAS) in the country.
The CAS chaos
While CAS, or "addressability", as Dasgupta prefers
to call it to rid it of negative connotations, is still the cornerstone
of growth of the home entertainment sector in the country, it has
to be understood as a long term gain and not a quick fix solution,
Referring to Chennai, the only city that has seen a scheduled CAS
rollout thus far, Dasgupta said his company's research had shown
that while 96 per cent of the city's denizens did not care for Hindi
programming, almost 40 per cent were keen on sports and English
content. However, till 15 October, only 6,432 set-top boxes (STBs)
had been sold in the city, which means only one per cent of cable
homes in Chennai currently watch pay TV channels.
The reason for the low rate of STB penetration, he said, was the
political uncertainty about the future of CAS, lack of clarity on
the cost of STBs as well as pay channels and the option of watching
sports channels in pubs and hotel lobbies instead of opting for
a STB at home.
Declaring that "the consumer has been turned off by the rollout
of CAS," Dasgupta said addressability can only be ensured by
seeding STBs - by offering them at easy rentals or even free of
cost, or by offering reasonable packages of pay channels and introducing
localised interactive services that will add to the attraction of
"CAS was a means to bring addressability to the incumbent
network, which was cable. That did not happen, mainly because we
failed to provide the value adds, which would have made it an attractive
proposition to the consumer," Dasgupta said.