Star-Netcom Deal May Hit MSOs, Cable Operators

Kolkata: | Updated: Sep 22 2003, 05:30am hrs
Stars decision to appoint RPG Netcom as the sole distributor for its channels here has cable operators who had parted ways with Netcom, to form their own multisystem operators (MSOs), worried.

However, industry veterans say the Netcom-Star deal will bring order in a chaotic market. According to them, the pact paves the way for implementation of the conditional access system.

Elsewhere in India, sound MSOs such as Ortel in Orissa and Hathway in Mumbai have similar deals with Star, one industry watcher said. He said Star as well as Netcom needed the deal Star to consolidate its subscription base and RPG Netcom to ensure that it gets its share of service charges.

The deal will also help RPG Netcom put pressure on the neighbourhood cable operators, with many of them having parted ways with the MSO to set up their own groups.

At present, the city has five MSOs, including pioneer Siti Cable of Zee and RPG Netcom, the largest. RPG Netcom has also roped in Rangan Dasgupta, an industry veteran who had formed another MSO called Manthan Broadband.

The deal with Star gives RPG Netcom the city distribution rights for all the eight Star channelsStar Plus, Star Movies, Star World, Star Gold, Star News, Channel V, National Geographic and Vijay.

Industry sources said RPG Netcom is negotiating with Sony, ESPN and Star Sports for exclusive distribution rights to these channels also.

As a result of the deal, which came into effect from September 1, the three MSOs here competing with Netcom for subscribers will now have to take their signals from Netcom. The rival MSOs are Siti Cable, Manthan, Shristi and CableComm Services.

Rival MSOs have a common worry that RPG Netcom will use its distribution rights to arm-twist other MSOs.