Jain TV readies India's first HITS distribution platform | SupportBiz

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Jain TV readies India's first HITS distribution platform

In Asia’s third-biggest economy, India, some 80 million homes receive TV programming via cable networks. For a country with an ambitious goal of full digitalization of its television signals by 2014, a satellite-based digital cable television distribution platform is the way forward, said the head of a television network.

India’s Jain TV Group is getting ready to roll out the country’s first ‘headend in the sky’ (HITS) platform, a less expensive, digital television-signal delivery mechanism, said group chairman Dr JK Jain.  

“JAIN HITS will change the whole deal,” Dr Jain said speaking to SupportBiz.

Cable operators dominate India’s INR30,000 crore television broadcasting industry -- INR19,000 crore goes to them in the form of subscription revenue, the Business Standard reported.

In the HITS platform, a ground station with several dish antennae downlinks satellite channels from several satellite transponders. Each channel is first decrypted. Channels are bundled, encrypted into digital form and beamed back to a communication satellite. The HITS operator transmits a bundle of channels to cable operators using a satellite as opposed to transmitting channels through cable, according to a company media release.

“We are investing several million dollars in this ‘direct to networks’ project,” Dr. Jain said. Talks are on with technology vendors such as Motorola and Ericsson, who will install and maintain equipment at the company’s dish antenna farm located in Noida, in the National Capital Region (NCR), he said. Communication satellite services firm Intelsat has been roped in to provide C-band satellite capacity on Intelsat 902 at 62 degrees east, the company media release said. 

In the US, the HITS platform, managed by telecommunications firm Comcast, is used to distribute digital television. “We are not re-inventing the wheel here. Cable operators have a sound technical understanding of the business. They are looking for the best and the cheapest platform and will adopt HITS,” Dr. Jain said.

The Subhash Chandra-led Essel Group was the first to bring the concept to India, but shelved plans in 2010 citing high entry fees, absence of a favourable tariff plan and restrictions on the use of DTH infrastructure as reasons, The Financial Express reported.

The absence of regulation forced (Essel Group) to drop its plans, Dr Jain said. “TRAI regulations now specify everything, including how revenue has to be shared between cable TV operators, the HITS operator and broadcasters. There is scope for five HITS operators is India,” he said.

To be a HITS operator in India, a firm has to pay an INR10 crore entry fee and provide an INR40 crore performance bank guarantee to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Spectrum licensing costs hover around INR2 crore and are paid to the Telecom Ministry.

HITS will show subscriber numbers to broadcasters, tax authorities and other stakeholders in the cable distribution chain accurately and transparently. Subscribers benefit from itemized billing details. India has some 60,000 cable operators and about 6,000 headend operators. HITS is the only technology that can transform the cable distribution business into a trouble free, dispute free and crime free enterprise, the company release said.

The HITS set top box can also serve as a hybrid platform for both television and broadband Internet services. It can provide value added services such as Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol( VOIP) and Triple Play (Voice, Data &Video), the company release said.