While the second batch of e-auction of FM Phase-III channels is still underway, it is receiving a subdued response from the bidders. The reserve price for some cities is perceived to be too high and unviable by the operators. While 70 percent FM operators stayed away from the auction, 44 cities failed to attract any bids.
DAS implementation seems to be delayed and now the earliest possibility for completion of cable TV digitization seems to be March 2017. Currently, more than 60 percent of the cable subscribers continue to be analog and digitally not addressable. Only once this process is completed, can issues as improving tax collections from the cable industry, addressability, and net realization for MSOs; increase in average revenue per user (ARPU) and margins; improved quality of viewing; and better service standards for consumers, be addressed. The court cases filed by cable operators, relating to DAS Phase-III and Phase-IV have been a major cause of delay. Phase-IV areas need approximately 75 million set-top boxes and these mostly comprise rural India’s smaller towns and cities.
The industry saw merit in consolidation. Over the year, AT&T acquired Time Warner; Sony Pictures Networks India acquired Ten Sports from Zee; Zee Media Corporation acquired Hum 106.2 FM and a 49 percent stake in BIG FM; and Dish TV and Videocon d2h set the ball rolling to merge the two DTH companies. New Zealand’s two dominant media players NZME Limited and Fairfax NZ Limited have also sought authorization to merge their media operations.
The recent demonetization drive of the government has hit ad spends significantly. Across the media platforms, a revenue loss of about Rs. 2000 crore is expected in the period Nov 8 to Dec 31, 2016. However, the credit rating agencies continue to see India as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and predict a GDP higher than China’s 6.6 percent in the fiscal 2016-17.
On that note, we wish our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!