A year ago, at the annual FICCI-Frames convention on media and entertainment held in Mumbai, newly-appointed Information and Broadcasting Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, had announced loud and clear his desire to see conditional access system (CAS) in motion. CAS was the topic of hot discussion then, and it continues to be hot even today, albeit in a different vein. As Ashok Mansukhani, executive vice-president, Hinduja TMT, stated during the session on addressability on Day Three (March 17) of Frames 2004, "CAS is dead, but addressability is not." A point echoed by all speakers - including Doug Miller, managing director, Walt Disney, Asia Pacific, Derek Nottingham, vice-president, systems engineering and customer operations, NDS UK, Prakash Bajpai, president, Reliance Infocomm, Shantanu Aditya, president, SET Discovery Pvt Ltd, and AK Sekhar, country sales manager, broadband communication sector, Motorola.
Miller, in his keynote address, emphasized on the need for genuine addressability when targeting the consumer. "Genuine addressability can be a win-win situation for the consumer, but it has to offer some kind of incremental value," he said. Broadcasters, he maintained, should provide great content at a reasonable price. "Most consumers do not bother about how they receive a TV signal. What matters to them is the content and price. With one-third the penetration, Disney, in Singapore, delivers more rating points than rivals," he pointed out.
Bajpai of Reliance Infocomm and Sekhar of Motorola pitched their case for broadband, describing it as an essential attribute of a knowledge economy. "If 8 million TV sets are sold every year, why can't 8 million set-top boxes (every addressable system including CAS, DTH and broadband require set-top boxes to route signals of pay channels) float around?" Sekhar argued. In the case of television sets, he explained, consumers see value in making a purchase, thanks to aggressive marketing, promotional and educative activities taken up by marketers. "However, with set-top boxes, the value proposition is yet to creep in."
Meanwhile, Aditya of SET Discovery spoke about the advantages of direct-to-home or DTH, even as he attempted to clear the air about market dynamics prevalent in the country. "India is the third-largest cable and satellite (C&S) market in the world, with 45 million homes having C&S connections. However, low subscription rates imply that western models cannot be replicated here," he said. Consumers must get adequate choice in matters of addressability and value addition, and DTH, he pointed out, is a proven technology unlike broadband, is easy to install and operate, is a viable alternative for SEC A householders as well as advertisers keen on targeting this segment, and most importantly, has no direct confrontation with the cable operator.
Mansukhani, on the other hand, presented the cable industry's point of view, emphasizing that being consumer-friendly as opposed to being cable operator-friendly was the key to survival. "Under declaration of the subscriber base is a non-issue," he said. "Cable operators do not run mom-and-pop operations," he clarified.
Nottingham of NDS, UK, a leading provider of CAS-related technology in the world, predictably spoke about conditional access, and why it could work in India. "With conditional access, you can package content as you want," he said. "It allows for better transparency, protecting revenue and content at the same time." © 2004 agencyfaqs!