Just a child then, when television broadcasting had begun in a makeshift studio at Akashvani Bhavan in New Delhi. A low power transmitter and 21 television sets were used as foundation stone for this globalize television broadcasting in 1959. Really, it is a great achievement for those who had witnessed that particular occasion. Bhaskar Ghose, former Information and Broadcasting Secretary shared the joy of that moment, “images of a gramophone record were being shown on television as the music blared away.” (Kohli 2003, p. 59) That gramophone picture and fantastic music became a landmark for Indian television broadcasting. People got more than enough what they have visualized as television before.

A new appliance entered into our periphery with its uncommon characteristics. Have you ever thought about the family members of a newborn baby? Every day and every moment, they are anticipating some changes in their child. Like that, we were expecting for new significant changes in television broadcasting.

The journey from 21 television sets to 80 million has been marked by many milestones: Regional Kendras; DD metro; satellite transmission; and cable broadcasting among others. In 1976, television broadcasting was ‘de-linked’ from All India Radio (AIR) with a new appropriate synonym for distant vision (i.e. Doordarshan). As a public service broadcaster, it was also claimed as an ‘advertisement-free’ electronic media. The revenues for Doordarshan were funded through a combination of television licenses and allocation from the annual budget. But the need of advertising revenue was felt by DD only after the telecast of first commercial on 1st January, 1976. Though the advent of commercial could fulfill only 1% of Doordarshan’s budget, however later advertisements become the only major source of revenue for Doordarshan.

Cable Television Industry

Cable has grown from an apartment connected together in 1980s to coverage of nearly 42 million households in India. During the last decade, the cable network mushroomed as an industry. There are about 280 channels that beam their signal over India. Generally the MSOs are delivered 80 channels (31 are pay channels and 49 free-to-air channels) to the viewers. Gradually the large broadcasters or cable companies stepped into this business as multi-system operator (MSO). They had the capacity to set up a large control room and subscribe maximum number of pay channels.

Now the cable industry is fragmented with over 40,000 cable operators. These cable operators are controlled by MSOs. Some major MSOs in India are Siticable, IndusInd Media, InCable Net, Hathway Cables, Sun TV and RPG Netcom. They are not only controlling the four metropolitan cities but have also covered some major cities in India. Siticable has the highest market share (5.4 million) of Indian Cable industry while IndusInd Media has its subscription base of four million homes.
Multi-system operators (MSOs) are backed by large corporations to invest money in this business.

Siticable is a joint venture between Zee TV and Rupert Murdoch’s News Television. InCable Net is managed by the Hinduja group; property baron Rajan Raheja’s Hathway Cables has come out of nowhere to become a powerhouse over the last couple of years; the most dominant cable force in south India, Sumangli Cable Vision is run by southern media baron Kalanithi Maran; and RPG Netcom is promoted by the RPG group, who holds sway over West Bengal. This is just like any other business. Think of MSOs as a wholesaler of the signal while the small cable operators (SCOs) are the retailers of the trade.

Obviously, these small cable operators have a control over the viewers. They collect subscription fee from the cable home every month. Barely 15-20 percent of every subscriber’s share goes to multi-system operator. Though, this monthly cable charges vary from place to place, the MSO’s share is almost equal everywhere. The multi system operators (MSOs) know that it is very tedious task for them to touch the threshold of the last mile. So, they don’t have any direct control over the cable homes. But in some cities like Bhubaneswar and Trivandrum, the MSOs have controlled the cable homes directly.

Let us take an average of Rs. 100 per subscriber per month, India’s 61 odd million cable and satellite households shell out a cumulative Rs. 61 billion. This is one major revenue stream for the cable operator/MSO. After launching of pay channels, they are looking for any other source of revenue to get more profit in this trade. If you consider the structure and the way revenues flow through it, then the cable industry is just like a pyramid. The satellite channel broadcasters are up-linking the signal from their earth stations and these signals are captured by the multi system operators. The small cable operator (SCO) distributes the feed in his territory which covers between 200 and 300 households of its neighborhood. The main aim for cable connection is to get clear reception and enjoy matinee and night show cinemas, which was telecast in the cable channels.

These cable channels belong to MSOs like SitiCinema belongs to Siticable, CVO belongs to InCable and C-News belongs to Hathway. In small towns, the small cable operators (SCOs) also have their own channel in which they telecast Hindi movies, regional movies, songs, religious discourses, fairs, community games and regional news. The cable operator has all type of control over these channels. If any blockbuster movie is to be telecast in cable channel, they have given a prior notice to their viewers about the timing of the movie. Sometimes, they also use this channel for some statutory warning (pay your monthly fee on time; else without notice your home will be disconnected from the network.)

Some local advertisers were interested to show their messages as scroll item in the bottom of the television screen. Instead of advertisement tariff, they pay very less amount to the cable operator for their service. At the beginning, they have accepted the money as an extra income. However, son they got a positive response from their consumers. Gradually, this became another growing stream of revenues, which so far has gone unnoticed.


By yanam49

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *