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Broadcasters may not lower channel rates
July 19, 2003 16:27 IST
Broadcasters appear unlikely to bring down their channel rates in the new conditional access system regime despite the government asking them to do so, industry sources said on Saturday.
Even as uncertainty prevails on the fate of the CAS rollout, broadcasters were expected to come out with new rates for pay channels as well as an alternate formula for the 'honeymoon' time proposal of all channels for Rs 72.
But some broadcasters on Saturday indicated that new rates may not be forthcoming soon and they may in fact stick to older rates.
Star said it has submitted its rate list to the government on Friday "and these rates are the ones we have announced earlier. There is no change."
ESPN's Manu Sahni sidestepped queries on lower rates, saying: "We are still in discussions with cable operators and MSOs. What can happen now is volume discounts and we are trying to work out different packages."
Discovery's Deepak Shourie said no new rates were being announced on Saturday, while Sony Entertainment Network chief Kunal Dasgupta and Zee's Jawahar Goel could not be contacted.
CAS went into turmoil earlier after government's promise that all channels will be available for Rs 200 fell flat, with broadcasters quoting much higher rates.
Rates given by broadcasters came to much over Rs 200 for free-to-air and five popular pay channels -- Sony, Star Plus, Zee, ESPN and Star Sports -- at a meeting earlier this week.
The maximum retail price rates given by broadcasters were Star Plus (Rs 24), Sony (Rs 20), ESPN (Rs 29) and Star Sports (Rs 29).
While Star Plus and Star Movies together have been priced at Rs 44, Set Max, Sony and Discovery combined will cost Rs 44 and ESPN and Star Sports Rs 32.
Rates of the other channels were Rs 25 for Zee, Rs 20 each for Zee Cinema, Cartoon and CNBC, Rs 15 for Zee MGM, Rs 10 each for Trendz, Zee English and Zee News and Rs 5 each for Reality and CNN.
Meanwhile, the government is contemplating amendments to the Cable Act for getting broadcasters under the purview of CAS and capping rates of pay channels as well as advertisements on them.
However, it is not clear whether an amendment to this effect would come up in the monsoon session of Parliament beginning next week.
With the broadcasters not agreeing to the 'honeymoon' period from August 1 and squabbling cable operators threatening to raise subscriptions, the government has no definite answers yet as to what shape its CAS roll-out plan might take.
The government has notified zones on Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata and the whole of Chennai to go under the CAS regime in the first phase of the staggered rollout from September 1.
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