Ajay Singh- Head Legal and Chief Compliance Officer at Hathway Cable and Datacom said in an exclusive interview with NexTV News India during the NexTV Series Mumbai that Das Phase IV represent a bigger challenge for all the stakeholders. Singh is predicting that many Pay-TV channel will go FTA in Das Phase IV.
- Q.Hathway has been at the forefront of digitalization in India, what are your views on the whole process of digitalization?
- A. The digitalization process in India is going to take the whole broadcasting sector into different league all together. Digitalization is beneficial for all the stakeholders whether it is the broadcasters, MSOs, LCOs or the consumers. If we look at the whole digitalization process, it is mainly for the consumer benefits. When television was in analogue, consumers was made to watch what the operator wanted them to watch. Now with the digitalization process going on, the consumers will be able to choose what they would like to see and also to budget their TV expenses. India is a very cost sensitive market. The process of digitalization will help consumers to budget their expenses and they will pay only for what they are watching and not what is being imposed on them.
- Q.Concerning digitalization, Phase III is almost completed, how do you see the process of Phase IV?
- A. The digitalization process in Phase IV will be a bigger challenge because of the geography. It will be a humongous task as Phase IV represent a very scattered market which is mainly in rural areas. For an MSO to be viable in this particular market, they need to have at least a subscriber’s base. Now as the market is scattered, it is very difficult to have that base. Phase IV is a very difficult market and is also very cost sensitive. The ARPU in India is already low, in Phase IV, the ARPU will be much lower. I think that once the Phase III is completed, MSOs will have to sit together and look at what need to be done and think about the strategies that MSOs need to adopt when going into Phase IV.
- Q.Being of the big MSO in India, how is the Hathway’s collaboration with LCOs going on?
- A. We are currently in the process of empowering the LCOs. We have started the ‘Hathway Connect’ program whereby the LCOs are empowered digitally through this portal to reach out their consumers. LCOs can now activate and deactivate their consumers. Basically, the LCOs would be acting as an entrepreneur, what they have always wanted. On the other hand, there have been a lot of orientation programs that we have been conducting in different regions for the LCOs. We have done all that for the LCOs who feel that they have been alienated by the MSOs and to make them understand that they formed part of the ongoing process of digitalization. Hathway is committed toward the empowerment of the LCOs.
- Q.During the discussion panel, you are predicting that in in Phase IV, a lot of Pay-TV channel will become Free-to-Air channel. Can you elaborate more on this?
- A. Yes, in fact why we are predicting this is because again the market in Phase IV is scattered and broadcasters need to devise a strategy to attract subscribers. In Phase IV, broadcasters will not get consumers paying for channel and they need to think on this. That is why we are saying that many pay TV channel will go FTA in Phase IV. For example, according to BARC rating, ZEE Anmol, a FTA channel is doing well in rural areas in Phase III. Taking that as example, we are of opinion that other broadcasters will follow this trend.