Why Tata Sky is losing the game

TataskyVikram Kaushik, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, of Tata Sky has apparently spoken to the media in Chennai asserting that Tata Sky would always strive to acquire ‘quality customers’.  He has also said that his service is not interested in the ‘bottom of the pyramid’.

This is a euphemism masking the contempt that Tata Sky has for the vast number of people who bought its service — its self-reported base is 3.7 million customers as on date.  It is also strange business logic, going by the strategy of the mobile phone industry in this country — where bigger subscriber numbers lead to profits.

It would have been interesting to hear what Tata Sky had to say about High Definition broadcasting, which their rivals like Sun Direct DTH have already announced. National Geographic, Animal Planet and Discovery are seeking permission to beam HD in India, we hear, and it is not clear if Tata Sky will offer them because they have been speaking of lack of capacity on satellites (They don’t have NDTV Hindu yet for that reason, it appears). Hi-Def also requires new STBs, and Tata has lost that advantage to rivals already.

I am a Tata-Sky customer, and it is my experience that they don’t offer all the channels available in the market; they club channels, particularly in sports and films, in such a predatory manner as to ensure that value offerings are not part of their base packages.

The DTH market is very messy right now with no regulatory controls. Now that the TRAI is out of the stranglehold of Ministers-cum-broadcasters-cum-distributors, it should devote itself to regulation of DTH. There can be no delay in introducing a la carte pricing for DTH channels, with regulatory cap on the price of individual channels and controls on anti-competitive behaviour.

It is also difficult to imagine that Prasar Bharti, which launched DTH from Doordarshan, has been banished from the scene. There is no augmentation of the DD DTH platform, on which many broadcasters would be happy to be seen. It is also possible that DD will broadcast HD. It has been kept out of the reckoning by disallowing use of modern technology such as Digital broadcasting, both terrestrial and satellite. AIR is also in a moribund state, unable to use such advancement as Digital Audio Broadcasting. Truly a shameful situation for Indian broadcasting, compared to the progress made by public broadcasters such as the BBC.

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