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The DTH industry has been crippled

“The DTH business continues to see headwinds while the category continues to see a significant long-term opportunity for upgradation from cable. It’s also a classic case of an industry that has been brought to its knees due to excessive regulation.

Let me explain. The new tariff order brought about years ago mandated every minuscule aspect of pricing in an industry which was managed until then very simply through forbearance. This created a mind-boggling amount of complexity for the DTH players and even more importantly for the customer with no benefit to any stakeholder.

The second aspect of skewed regulation is to do with the very same content being made available for free. This is what happens on free-to-air channels, and there’s, mind you very good content in many cases here with just windowing. Or, it’s being available being made available on the same screen through a broadband pipe at unregulated prices. This is what happens on OTT platforms. As a result, the DTH industry has been crippled.

We’re glad to see that TRAI has just come out with new consultation paper on tariffs and we hope that at the end of this consultation regulations will be lightened so that we can focus on what we do best. Keep things simple and serve customers, “ said Gopal Vittal at the earnings call after announcing Q4FY22 results on May 18, 2022.

Bharti Airtel’s direct to home (DTH) segment has seen slower revenue growth in FY22 due to a declining subscriber base. Airtel Digital TV, the DTH brand of Bharti Airtel, has posted a 3% growth in revenue at Rs 3153.8 crore in FY22 compared to Rs 3056.2 crore in FY21.

This is similar to what Punit Goenka, managing director and chief executive officer, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited stated at his company’s earnings call for its fourth quarter and yearly results for the financial year ended March 31. “The uptake of free direct-to-home services has come down since the major broadcasters networks collectively left the platform on 1 April. Cord-cutting has slowed down now that GECs (general entertainment channels) have come out of the Free Dish platform. So far, the decline in subscription revenues has been because we were losing subscribers. The good thing is we’re not losing subscribers to digital but rather subscribers are migrating from pay linear to free linear TV,” he added.

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