The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Broadcaster tie-up boosts MSO muscle

After signing on the dotted line for an exclusive distribution pact with STAR, RPG Netcom is reportedly eyeing another strategic alliance, with the Sony stable, to entrench itself firmly in the driver’s seat of Calcutta’s cable TV industry.

The city’s leading multi-system operator (MSO), which had seen its market share erode alarmingly of late thanks to an exodus of member operators who joined other service providers leaving behind “massive outstandings”, hopes to bring most of the defaulters back into their fold, using this “strong leverage”.

STAR India Pvt Ltd and RPG Netcom Ltd, announced in a joint statement on Friday that they have entered into an “exclusive distribution agreement for the existing channels for Calcutta metropolitan area”, effective September 1, 2003.

Tony D’Silva, executive vice-president, distribution, STAR India, said: “The relationship between STAR and RPG Netcom will help provide better services to consumers and regulate the growing industry in the city.”

Echoing D’Silva, RPG Netcom CEO Amit Nag said: “This tie-up is expected to add immense value to both the companies towards market penetration, visibility, promotion and branding. We wish to assure all service providers and their affiliates that this tie-up will enhance their value proposition to the customers.”

However, the other service providers were far from feeling “assured” and seemed in the dark about ground modalities of the distribution arrangement. “We have sought clarifications from STAR on the commercial nitty-gritty of the deal,” said SitiCable vice-president Soumen Roy Chowdhury. “It’s too early to comment,” said a Manthan director.

Industry sources felt MSOs accused of “sheltering” RPG Netcom defaulters would be hit as hard by this marriage of convenience as the defectors themselves, since the Netcom management would have its finger on the switch of the “strongest bouquet” on beam.

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