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IPTV in new year

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has set January 1, 2008, as the new deadline for the launch of its Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service in Calcutta.

IPTV will be the third option of watching satellite television channels in the city, after cable and direct-to-home (DTH). BSNL will use its telephone wires to broadcast its signals.

The public sector behemoth had announced that it would launch IPTV in Salt Lake on August 15 this year before extending the service to other parts of the city. “We had to postpone the launch because of problems in procuring content. We have sorted out most of the difficulties,” said S.K. Chakraborty, the chief general manager of Calcutta Telephones.

BSNL had been unable to get into an agreement with Sony and Zee after the broadcasters raised questions regarding a clause in the policy guideline for downlinking of television channels (2005).

“We have not managed to strike a deal with Zee and ESPN-STAR Sports but the other broadcasters will provide us content,” said Vinayak Hadkar, the vice-president (access and distribution) of India Online Ltd, the third party content provider for BSNL’s IPTV service.

Chakraborty asserted that the launch would happen with or without the channel bouquets. “If Zee does not get into an agreement with us, we will change the commercial terms of the service,” added the chief general manager.

BSNL has decided to offer a rebate on broadband and telephone charges to IPTV subscribers, bringing down the effective monthly TV tariff to less than Rs 200, if the bouquets are not available.

“We hope to offer about 600 films for the video-on-demand service. The viewers will be able to watch films after their commercial release by paying between Rs 5 and Rs 30,” stated Chakraborty.

Video conferencing facility will also be available to IPTV subscribers. Time Shift TV, which will allow subscribers to store programmes for viewing at their convenience, will be introduced later. “We will have to see what are the popular packages and then sign agreements with the broadcasters,” said Chakraborty.

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