The Information and Broadcasting ministry has proposed a plan that could bring down the high cost of digital television — Direct to Home, Conditional Access System and triple play (video, telephony and data on television).
The ministry’s sub-group on digital television plans to bring all cable homes under digital network in over 10 million homes by 2010 and the rest by 2012.
"The success of CAS in four metros would give impetus to our future plans. But, nobody can stop the digital revolution, where the consumer would be king," an I&B ministry official said.
The ministry has proposed to reduce duties on equipment like Set Top Boxes (STBs), head-ends (that link signals between MSO and cable operator) and dish antennas as incentives.
“Their use is likely to increase 8 to 10 times in the next four years and that will undo any revenue loss to the government,” the report said.
However, the exact percentage of duty reduction will be worked out by the ministry and Planning Commission before submitting the final proposal to the finance ministry. Once duties are reduced and competition intensifies, the STBs will be available for Rs 500-Rs 700 and the monthly bill will not exceed Rs 250, even for watching top pay channels, an official said.
But for that to happen, one may have to wait till 2010 when pay channel viewing in all metros and cities like Kanpur, Ludhiana, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Guwahati, Pune and Chandigarh will only be through STBs.
The ministry wants a market-driven television service with an independent regulator as the draft Broadcast Regulatory Bill has suggested.
“The regulator will determine maximum prices based on inputs and will also look into complaints,” a commission official said.
By the next year-end, from three, DTH operators are expected to go up to six. In addition to Dish TV of Zee Network, Tata Sky and DD Direct, three new players are expected to join soon — Reliance, Bharati and Sun TV.
“We have already signed an agreement with SUN TV, while a letter of intent has been issued to Magic of Reliance. Bharati has applied for DTH license,” an I&B official said.
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