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Fixing cracks in Agra’s digital driveway

Agra is one of the worst digital addressable system (DAS) markets in India. Consumer ARPU (average revenue per user) is miserably low, multi-system operators (MSOs) were fighting against each other till September 2014, and local cable operators (LCOs) have not focused on increasing cable TV rates. For more than a year and a half after DAS got implemented, nothing has been corrected.

But what makes us paint such a sorry picture? Agra-based Sea TV Network, a listed company, reported Rs 18 crore (Rs 180 million) as revenue in FY14 but 82 per cent of this was receivables. This means that revenue was booked but money remained uncollected. The MSO expects to collect this mainly from its LCOs.

In FY13, the year before DAS, Sea TV Network’s receivables comprised 61 per cent of revenue. Even this is high compared to its bigger peers such as Hathway Cable & Datacom and DEN Networks, who have 35 per cent of their revenue component as receivables. For all the five MSOs operating in the city, collections from LCOs have been really pathetic.