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Post MediaPro, NDTV and MCCS will face challenges as they build their own distribution teams
MUMBAI: After the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) narrowed the role of the content aggregators, news broadcasters are taking the independent route. NDTV and Media Content & Communication Services (MCCS), who were taking the services of MediaPro Enterprises, have decided to distribute their channels on their own and are building up teams.
NDTV and MCCS were part of Star’s distribution umbrella before the formation of MediaPro. After the joint venture partners Star and Zee decided to disband MediaPro following TRAI’s new regulation, the two news broadcasters could have been handled externally by a content aggregator but their channels couldn’t have been bundled and sold along with either Star’s or Zee’s group of channels.
Star and Zee are busy combining their sports and entertainment channels in their respective bouquets. Zee will also have the Turner group of channels, at least for now.
Star’s focus will be to integrate the entertainment and sports distribution teams. Star Sports, which has a slew of sports channels, was earlier handled by a separate distribution team.
“For Star, there is enough in the plate as it has a wide array of channels across all genres. It does not have kids and news but that will not impact them. Their channels are doing remarkably well in their respective genres and combined with sports they will have a formidable bouquet. In any case, they would not have been able to bundle the external news channels like NDTV and ABP News (MCCS) along with theirs,” said a media analyst who did not want his name to be revealed.
Zee’s distribution wing under Arun Kumar Kapoor will have the entertainment, news, sports and Turner group of channels. The entertainment channels are under Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) while the news network is housed in Zee Media Corporation.
“For Zee, the main interest is in keeping the Turner channels. Their bouquet will have a size that will give them enough muscle power,” the media analyst said.
The two news broadcasters will have a task cut out for them. Though they used to handle the placement of their channels separately outside MediaPro, the challenge is to collect subscription revenues from cable TV networks. The net equation between carriage fees and subscription revenues will come under threat.
For NDTV, which runs NDTV 24×7, NDTV India, NDTV Profit/Prime and NDTV Good Times, the task is slightly easier than MCCS. The company already has an affiliate sales team headed by Rahul Sood. While Rohit Jaiswal looks after revenues, Mohan Shankar oversees placements.
“Apart from carriage and placements, our team was looking after DTH and international distribution. They will now have to look after subscription too,” NDTV group CEO Vikram Chandra told TelevisionPost.com.
Broadcasters look at distribution at the net level, after calculating the subscription revenues they collect and the carriage fees they pay to the cable TV companies. For NDTV, it will be difficult to maintain this ratio.
Talking to TelevisionPost.com, MCCS CEO Ashok Venkatramani confirmed that MCCS is setting up a distribution team. “Yes, we will distribute our channels [ABP News, ABP Majha and ABP Ananda] on our own. We are in the process of setting up the team,” Venkatramani said.
MCCS, which operates in the Hindi and regional-language TV news space, is planning to launch new channels. So the distribution team will have to face up to the additional challenge of getting these new channels rightly placed and at the right carriage fees.
“The proposed new channel launches will come at a time when the bargaining power is with the distribution platform providers. This will have an impact on costs,” said a media analyst at a broking firm.
MGM, which was distributed by MediaPro, will also have to build its own distribution team.