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'DTH will drive Indian cable industry growth'

April 13, 2005 11:09 IST

The Cable & Satellite Association of Asia promotes multi-channel TV in the Asia Pacific region. Last week, CASBAA set up its India chapter. Aparna Krishnakumar spoke to Marcel Fenez, CASBAA chairman and Asia Pacific leader, Entertainment & Media Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers, who was in Mumbai for FRAMES 2005. Excerpts from the interview:

Is the growth in the Asian entertainment industry hyped?

PwC studies on Asia project that by the end of the decade, 25 per cent of the entertainment is going to be generated from this region. And this is no hype. China with a growth rate of 25 per cent and India at 18 per cent, are among the fastest growing markets fueling the boom in entertainment. Broadband will be the key driver for the region.

Are the challenges for the Asian cable industry big?

Yes, especially, the issue of pay television piracy. The Asian TV industry faces an annual leakage of signals worth $1 billion. PwC estimates this to grow between 10 and 11 per cent annually.

Even the best technology gets hacked into within months of deployment. It is vital that the cable industry makes an effort to educate consumers, lobby for regulators and ensure that the legal framework exists and is enforced as well.

Can one draw parallels between the cable industry in India and the rest of Asia?

No. Each country in Asia has a unique problem. In Hong Kong there's an influx of illegal set top boxes, in Thailand, one has to compete with 460 unlicensed cable operators who steal signals. In India, under-reporting of subscribers is rampant. Hence, the effort to have a localised body like CASBAA to deal with the problems.

What are the aims of CASBAA, India?

The aims of CASBAA include growing the cable industry, fighting revenue leakage and investing in technology. We've had working progress in all the countries that we operate in. When broadcasters report an increase in their revenues, it reflects the success of our initiative.

The Indian chapter would follow a similar approach. In India, TRAI is already doing a commendable job and that's where the success of the Indian cable industry lies; a good regulatory environment will help grow the cable industry.

What will be the growth drivers for the Indian cable industry?

To my mind, the impact of DTH is important. How this technology takes off in this country will surely pave the way for future development of the Indian cable industry.

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