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India’s Dish TV partners with Delhi's local cable operators

India's largest direct to home (DTH) satellite operator Dish TV has launched a pilot project in Delhi, partnering local cable operators (LCOs) to entice more subscribers to its channel offering ahead of the country's first phase of cable digitisation.

RC Venkateish, chief executive, Dish TV, told the Economic Times he expects to acquire 1-1.5 million subscribers across Delhi and other cities in the short term through such LCO tie-ups.

Dish TV reportedly has agreements with about 30 cable operators currently. Within two months, it will expand this figure to 3,000 LCO, or last mile operators, across India.

"This scheme helps us open a new distribution channel and establish a personal contact with our customers. Our last mile operators will install these boxes, service the connections as well as collect bills," Venkateish is quoted as saying in the Economic Times.

The LCOs will reportedly receive commission on set top box installations, as well as 15-20% commission upon the recharge of a customer's subscription.

The scramble for subscribers has been kick started by the India's government's mandate for cable digitisation. By 1 July 2012, the cable TV networks of India's four largest metro cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata – are to be entirely digitised, prompting greater competition between the DTH operators and multi system operators (MSOs), who provide both cable distribution and their own channel bouquets.

Rajan Sidana, who owns Chaitanya Cable Network, told the Economic Times tie-ups with DTH operators would be profitable for last-mile operators. "As it is, we are facing competition from DTH service providers and losing consumers to them. This is a way to retain our customer base and be able to offer them DTH as well as high-definition set-top-boxes on a commission basis," he said.

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