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SBI to finance set-top boxes

New Delhi, June 16: The government has directed the State Bank of India, the country’s largest commercial bank, to finance the purchase of set-top boxes under the conditional access system.

The bank, along with its seven associate banks — which form the SBI group — has decided to implement a new finance scheme in all its 13,000 branches across the country for viewers to purchase set-top boxes priced between Rs 1,400-2,400.

The bank loan move is designed to help popularise the introduction of the controversial CAS. Bank officials said advances would attract an interest of 14 per cent while the minimum down payment needs to be Rs 300-400.

“Thus, the equated monthly instalment (EMI) comes between Rs 55-100 for repayment of the loan in 35 months,” said a senior bank official.

The conditional access system would initially be applicable in the four metros from mid- July. Industry analysts say 25 per cent of 5.7 million cable TV viewers are likely to go for it by July 15.

“Considering the huge number of borrowers and the small amount of individual finance required, the bank would not open separate folios for each borrower,” the official added.

“Instead, the bank would open one folio in the loan ledger in the name of the main service operator for the amount of finance extended to the MSO for lending to different operators.”

The official said: “Individual borrowers would be taken separately for the purpose of lending on the basis of the application-cum-document of each borrower.” But, according to the terms and conditions, the borrowers would not be permitted to switch over to some other type of box before the loan is liquidated in full.

Govt convenes meet

The government is likely to meet broadcasters as well as multi-system operators on June 18 in a move to clear the air on the controversial conditional access system.

The meeting will try to put a concrete arrangement on ground as there are several issues common to broadcasters and MSOs, information and broadcasting ministry sources said.

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