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Small broadcasters most affected by Trai's regulation: Rajesh Kaul

TheOneAlliance, the distribution arm of Multi Screen Media, has announced that it has no intention of dissolving its alliance. Rajesh Kaul, President, TheOneAlliance, explains why.

Rajesh Kaul, President, TheOneAlliance
The Trai regulation against content aggregators bundling and selling channels of more than one network has led to the closure of content aggregation companies such as MediaPro (which was a joint venture between Star India and Zee Entertainment). More recently, Walt Disney India dissolved its partnership with IndiaCast, which is the distribution arm of Viacom 18. Walt Disney will now has to take care of its own distribution.

In contrast, TheOneAlliance, the distribution arm of Multi Screen Media, which also distributes the Discovery bouquet of channels, has announced that it has no intention of dissolving its alliance. Rajesh Kaul, President, TheOneAlliance, explains why to BUSINESS TODAY. Edited excerpts:

Q. What keeps TheOneAlliance going in an environment where regulations are against content aggregators?

A. The starting point is mutual trust. Discovery and MSM have been together for 12 years. The relationship between the two companies has been strong even at the headquarters in the US.

Q. So how has life changed now that you can't bundle channels and sell them to the multi service operators (MSO)?

A. The client is the same, the team is the same, but we have to sign separate contracts with the operators. If earlier we signed 5,000 contracts with various operators, now we have to sign 10,000 contracts. Operationally, it has become cumbersome.

Q. With you no longer able to bundle channels of various broadcasters haven't you lost your earlier clout with the MSO community?

A. Yes, to some extent powers have got diluted. However, we are still a huge entity as we distribute 33 channels. With both MSM (which recently launched Max2 and is shortly going to launch its third general entertainment channel) and Discovery (which is going to launch a Hindi general entertainment channel, Investigation Discovery and TLC HD World and Animal Planet HD World) being in investment mode and a healthy roll-out of new channels in the pipeline, we are going to be a powerful network.

Q. So, who is the biggest loser in the current scenario?

A. It is going to be the smaller broadcasters. A distribution network needs an investment of anywhere between Rs 30 to Rs 50 crore per annum. By aligning with a content aggregator, the smaller broadcasters could get their channels distributed at less than half the cost. Now, they have to re-look their distribution strategy. Whether I will be available in 100 towns or 50 towns is the call they have to take.