Dish TV’s Jawahar Goel on Jio GigaFiber, content deals, tariff order and DTH licence fee

MUMBAI: Dish TV chairman and managing director (CMD) Jawahar Goel has said that Reliance Jio’s fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband service Jio GigaFiber will have an impact on top 20 to 30 cities.

In the same breath, he noted that the last mile connectivity for FTTH service will take time. According to a study by Dish TV, a single DTH team can do a maximum of three installations per day whereas for FTTH a single installation will take atleast three days. At this pace, it will take a lot of time to reach millions of home.

“We had time and again made a study that our team of installers can do a maximum of three installations in a day whereas on FTTH a team will probably take three days to install a single home connection. So it a slow one and one has to live with that,” Goel told analysts recently during a conference call to discuss Q1 FY19 results.

On the impact of Jio GigaFiber on pay-TV operators, he said that some broadcasters have only done the contract for the small screen. “I asked them to issue a statement to that effect, addressed to all the stakeholders in the distribution space whether it is DTH or Cable. I will pursue with them to issue a statement. If we get the letter of confirmation from them then that should satisfy for the time being,” he stated.

Goel also feels that customers in metro cities will be attracted towards Jio GigaFiber, which promises of high-speed broadband as well as live TV channels.

“Service providers in cities like Bombay, Gurgaon and other high rise cities including the top 20 to 30 cities, will be impacted, and it should be a welcome impact,” he said.

Asked whether DTH will also get impacted by Jio GigaFiber, Goel pointed out that a similar question was asked when the digital addressable system (DAS) was being implemented.

He recollected how analysts were gung-ho about cable TV and its triple play capability. He added that six years down the line nothing significant has happened on the triple play front. He also said that IPTV has been a non-starter in the Indian market.

“So, I think that the urban population and rich people will have this kind of facility (Jio GigaFiber) but we should also not forget that we have families living in the semi-urban and rural markets,” he stated.

Talking about content deals, Goel said that the DTH operator is doing short-term fixed fee deals with broadcasters, however, it will not shy away from doing deals based on reference interconnect offer (RIO).

“We are expecting broadcasters to come out with their tariff as per the new tariff order, which is now effective from 3 July. We are preparing ourselves by talking to broadcasters and stakeholders, about their MRP pricing,” he noted.

According to Goel, the new tariff order will pave the way for a two-way partnership between distributors and broadcasters. “I think it is an opportunity, because the pay broadcasters, they never used to meet you. They only came to sign a contract for a year or two and then disappeared. So, I think it will create a partnership kind of a life going forward, and if they want to earn that revenue they have to sit with us and do the marketing of their content. So, I think it will be a partnership model,” he said.

Dish TV’s licence has been provisionally extended till December in early July. On the licence fees, Goel said that the government is preparing a new cabinet note on keeping DTH licence fee at 8% of adjusted gross revenue (AGR). “So hopefully in the next two to three months, we will get some positive report on this,” he said.

Recently, TRAI had reiterated its recommendation that DTH licence fee should be charged at 8% of AGR in the new licencing regime. The MIB was in favour of revising this to 10% of gross revenue.

On DD Free Dish, Goel said that the public broadcaster is talking to each of the broadcasters asking for a carriage fee of Rs. 6.5-8.5 crore for new channels. Additionally, it is also seeking for FTP (free airtime). Prasar Bharati is in the process of coming out with new policy guideline for DD Free Dish. In the interim, channels are paying carriage fee on a pro-rata basis.

Dish TV CFO Rajeev Dalmia said that the company has revised its Capex guidance for FY19. In Q1 FY19, it had deployed Rs. 190 crore Capex. “So based on this rate, it will be around Rs. 800 crore to Rs. 900 crore only, not Rs. 1000 crore which we had guided earlier,” he stated.

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