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Set-top shortage set to hit viewers in July
Ishita Ayan Dutt in Kolkata |
May 12, 2003 16:33 IST
Come July 14 and the channels which boast of maximum eyeballs will just go blank!
According to a major broadcaster, out of a total 64 lakh (6.4 million) TV-viewing homes, set top boxes for only two per cent of the cable channel subscribers have been ordered by the multi-system operators.
"Only a couple of lakhs of set top boxes are available," said the broadcaster.
Now, with the government standing its ground that conditional access system, or more popularly CAS, will be fully implemented from July 14, for most of the subscribers their television will go blank. The four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai constitute around 64 lakh homes of the total 400 lakh (40 million).
Broadcasters apprehend a drop in subscription radically due to the non-availability of set top boxes. Keeping this scenario in mind, major broadcasters made a presentation to the standing committee asking for implementation of CAS in phases but, the government has turned down the proposal.
An industry source pointed out that if subscribers go away then the price of the package of channels would inevitably soar. While prices are still being worked out, the entire strategy is purely based on the number of subscribers -- more the subscribers the less one pays for viewing the channels.
"We are going towards a scenario when a consumer would pay money and buy a set top box and then continue paying more monthly than he should for the channels which would have naturally gone down under the CAS regime," said a source.
In fact, the neighbourhood cable operators, who have so far been "friendly" enough to provide service even when the channels went blank in the past are also helpless. No longer can they provide such "friendly" service as it is a criminal offence.
Most of the MSOs are still debating whether to go in for an analog set top box or a digital one. The price difference between the two is around Rs 5,000.
An industry sources said while an analog set top box is practically outdated, a digital would last another 4-5 years. Digital set top boxes can even run a two-way communication system which, anyway, is not possible currently given the antiquated cable wires.