labels: entertainment, advertising/branding
Pay channels attract people to buy STBs at attractive ratesnews
Our Corporate Bureau
13 June 2003

Mumbai: With the conditional access system (CAS) set to be implemented from 15 July 2003 pay TV broadcasters are queuing up to offer viewers the sweetest deals possible in pricing of pay channels to make buying a set-top box (STB) doubly attractive.

According to a spokesperson of a leading broadcaster, cable TV viewers who decide to buy a STB early will get a double bonanza as, apart from getting an attractive monthly rental offer on the boxes, they would also get heavy discounts on pay-channel subscription as part of invitation pricing.

The invitation pricing is in line with the government agenda of a consumer-friendly rollout of CAS. This will supplement the offers made by multi-service operators for various hire-purchase schemes to offer set-top box at a rental Rs 1 per day (after an initial refundable deposit). The government has also reduced import duty on STBs from 50 per cent to 5 per cent, valid till 31 July.

But, according to industry sources, the good times may not last longer than six months. Cable TV viewers who book their STBs now may just get to watch their favourite channels at discounted rates for a few months after which broadcasters may begin to hike rates.

The sources add that the measure of offering discounted channel rates is to make CAS an unqualified success at least in the initial few months as without sufficient demand for STBs, the new system would be termed a failure.

One thing is for sure, say broadcasters. "If cable TV viewers book the STB early or not, the discounts on channel prices may not last long. We would offer invitation pricing for a period that the government specifies, and not longer."

The government earlier said that broadcasters would have to stick to rollout prices for at least six months. The CAS regime will come into effect in the four metros - Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai - from 14 July. CAS will impact the TV viewing habits of over 6.4 million cable TV homes in the metros. At stake is around Rs 3,000-odd crore of cable TV advertising budget.

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Pay channels attract people to buy STBs at attractive rates