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Mumbai, Sept. 29

Is the TRP rating system of the Indian television industry authentic? Is DTH a threat for the cable operators? Would the regulatory route taken by the Government bear fruits? These were some of the topics that came up for discussion at the second Indian Television Summit here on Thursday.

The industry at large felt that having 6,000 boxes to gauge the viewership patterns of 63 million audiences is not comprehensive. Mr Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, Sony Entertainment Television, said the major issue was that of proper representation.

Large sections of the society are not represented properly and this especially is a concern for those channels that target a certain cluster of people, he said.

Mr Shantonu Aditya, Chairman, Sahara Entertainment, and Mr Peter Mukerjea, CEO, Star India, also echoed similar thoughts and said that it is essential to increase the number of boxes to get proper data.

Mr Sam Balsara, Chairman, Madison Media Research, who was also in favour of increasing the number of boxes, said the TAM rating figures were very much in sync with popular opinion: "Whenever we have done a dipstick study, the ratings are always in line with the TAM study."

On the other hand, Mr L.V. Krishnan, CEO, TAM India, urged industry funding to install more boxes so that the agency can ensure a bigger sample size.

While sections of the industry and the Government felt that DTH had a promising future and could reach the remotest areas that cable TV cannot, others felt that the current model of cable networks would continue.

Neither DTH nor broadband would make a huge difference, Mr Aditya said. While the reach of broadband, according to him was still far away, DTH had an uphill task of breaking its high price barrier.

However, Mr Mukherjea felt that with DTH, the universe of viewers would increase. The coming years would see 70-90 million viewers connected to the cable; around four-five million viewers would be linked through DTH, he said.

Presenting the Government's point of view, Mr S.K. Arora, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, said that the Government's focus was on creating and enabling an environment that would facilitate investment and growth.

"Our primary objective is to keep consumer concerns at the forefront - ensuring affordable pricing, good service and reasonable assurance of choice," he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 30, 2005)
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