The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Licence for DTH & wink of adult fare

New Delhi, Sept. 12: Direct-to-Home television is set to roll out from October 1, with the government today issuing a Zee-promoted company the first licence for the service.

In what will be butter for Zee’s bread, the Centre is also likely to allow DTH service providers to deliver adult channels to subscribers. All cable television service providers have to abide by the programming and advertising code that is often observed in the breach.

The I&B ministry, however, frowns upon its violation. For DTH, a premium service that will bypass cable operators, the government is working on a rationing of titillating fare.

Sources in the ministry said the code will be applicable to DTH service providers, too, but they “may be allowed to telecast certain programmes at specific times”. In a guessing game that is easy, these would be slots such as “the late night show”.

DTH, through which the service provider can beam about 200 channels, is an alternative system of delivering television signals. Subscribers would need to buy a roti-sized dish that would download the signals from satellite and route them through set-top boxes. The boxes for DTH and CAS are different.

ASC Enterprises, the Zee-backed company, was issued the licence this morning after it deposited a bank guarantee of Rs 40 crore yesterday.

Till the government deferred the implementation of the conditional access system in Delhi, it looked like CAS and DTH would roll out at the same time. But now that CAS is nearly in tatters in Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta, DTH is rolling out first.

When the cabinet cleared DTH three years ago, it was after strong lobbying by STAR. Zee has got the nod first because STAR is yet to re-apply to the government after complying with rules governing foreign investment in DTH services.

According to the news agency, Zee has claimed it will offer DTH set-top boxes free to consumers with a monthly subscription of Rs 150. STAR is said to have quoted Rs 7,500-8,000 for a box and Rs 700-800 as monthly fee.

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