India DTH up 18%

Quarter-on-quarter growth outpaces cable

NEW DELHI -- India has 13.09 million Direct To Home subscribers as of March 2009, according to figures released Monday by New Delhi-based autonomous body Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. This reflects a growth rate of 17.93% quarter-on-quarter, with 11.10 million DTH subscribers in December 2008.

DTH players include News Corp joint venture Tata Sky, Zee TV-owned Dish TV, Reliance Big Entertainment's Big TV, South India-based Sun Direct and Airtel Digital TV backed by India's leading telecom company Bharti Airtel. Statecaster Doordarshan also runs its own service, DD Direct, while Indian consumer electronics giant Videocon also has plans to foray into DTH.

TRAI said DTH subscriber growth is faster than digital cable TV given the slow penetration of the Conditional Access System. TRAI figures indicate that CAS set top boxes marginally increased to 770,053 in the quarter ending March 2009 compared to 767,616 the previous quarter.

TRAI also said that India now has 130 pay channels and 168 free-to-air (FTA) channels.