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Star CEO against pay TV price regulation
BS Corporate Bureau in Mumbai | March 18, 2004 10:47 IST
The role of a regulator should be to provide a conducive environment for the development of pay TV industry and the price should be left to market forces, said Michelle Guthrie, the Hong Kong-based CEO of the Star group.
"The key role of regulators is to create an environment conducive to the development of the sector, and to help provide necessary measures to protect consumers. But broadly it is the free market that determines who survives and who fails. It is the freemarket that drives the development of the industry," Guthrie said in her presentation at Ficci-Frames 2004, the annual convention of the entertainment industry.
Later responding to a specific question from a newsperson on whether she referred to the pricing of content by broadcaster to the cable operator or the price charged by the operator to the final customer she said "I think that the global practices is to let both prices be decided by the market."
Guthrie's statement assume significance as it comes just a day after Trai chairman Pradip Biajal's speech at the convention where he held out the possibility of regulating the price of content to the final consumer for two to three years. Further, he felt that the regulator could not perhaps regulate the pricing of content.
Earlier, Ashok Mansukhani, the executive vice-president of HTMT, too was upset at the prospect of regulating pricing. He said even while consultative paper was being finalised by Trai, there was a move to regulate the price of cable TV.
"Are we pre-judging the issue," he asked? Mansukhani, however, did not refer to anyone by name Guthrie also said the deployment of set-top boxes is not mandatory globally.
"Globally the deployment of set-top boxes is market driven. Nowhere in the world is it mandatory, it's market driven because it involves investment from cable or satellite platform operators and a willingness of subscribers to subscribe. A cable operator may decide that set-top boxes will enhance his product with services such as an electronic program guide, or premium channels and thus it is a worthy investment. At the same time, the subscriber also needs to see benefits in these offerings and be willing to pay for it. Without these two, it is difficult to have a plan," she said.