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CAS pricing: Zee to move TDSAT

September 06, 2006 12:50 IST

Zee Turner Ltd, ESPN Star Sports and Star Group are expected to move the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal against the capping of pay channel prices at Rs 5 per month by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

While a senior Zee executive confirmed the move, ESPN Star and Star Group executives said they were evaluating the option.

Broadcasters will be meeting in Delhi on Saturday to thrash out the strategy for opposing the cap on pay channel prices. The prices will apply to the notified metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata where the conditional access system is to be rolled out from January 1, 2007.

Meanwhile, a section of the cable operator community has approached the information and broadcasting ministry to reduce the ceiling price from Rs 5 to Rs 3 per channel.

"We are making a representation to the government to reduce it to Rs 3 as the broadcasters would be reaching out to millions more due to the complete addressability in CAS," said Roop Sharma, president, Cable Operators Federation of India.

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Even as broadcasters are mulling legal action, multi-system operators -- large cable operators with headends to receive and transmit the signals to last mile operators -- and cable operators are gearing up for the CAS rollout.

They have invested Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion) to meet the demand by stocking set top boxes and in undertaking massive digitisation exercise.

Two of the biggest MSOs -- Hathway Cable & Datacom and InCableNet -- alone have spent over Rs 400 crore (Rs 4 billion).

"We have invested over Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) over the last three years and are well poised for the rollout. Within 90 days, we are expecting 25 per cent of the total CAS base to opt for STBs and pay channels," said Ashok Mansukhani, executive director, Indusind Media, which owns InCableNet.

While Hathway is looking to rope in roughly 3 lakh subscribers in the first year of operations, InCableNet hopes to corner 2 lakh in the first three months of operations itself.

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BS Reporter in New Delhi
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