I've written about this before, but now there is a major twist to the tale - the forthcoming Initial Public Offering of Global Broadcast News (GBN). Whats the twist? Simple. Simple emperical evidence shows that Tata-Sky has been a major winner in the Direct-To-Home (DTH) battle after Conditional-Access Systems (CAS) was implemented in large swathes of the four metropolitan areas - this is despite Tata-Sky having two major content issues. Other than CNN-IBN (or RajdeepTV, as I prefer to call it) there is no SunTV, but part of that has to do with the Maran family's own plan to launch a DTH service a bit later this year - and with one brother heading up the Telecom Ministry, I wonder if TRAI will issue an order forcing SunTV to give Tata-Sky feed. Anyway, back to the point, I've always said that Tata-Sky has by far and away the superior interface and lately you have the peculiar situation of one Zee arm - GalaxZee saying that DTH is bad while another - DishTV says DTH is good - one reason why getting into a service offered by Subhash Chandra is bit dubious. Somehow, you know that RNT and Rupert Murdoch will offer a decent service and Temasek never invests crazily.
Back to the story, DTH is a fairly expensive service at least in terms of initial cost - so you can assume that people who have been installing DTH (take a look at rooftops in South Delhi and South Bombay homes). Now this, is prime-English speaking (SEC A+, actually this would be SEC A+++ if there was such a category) territory - which means this is prime CNN-IBN territory. As it is you don't get CNN-IBN on the free feed, and you also don't get it on the DTH service which has been the clear winner in the CAS brouhaha. Now, if GBN has an IPO, and it is planning one fairly soon, and the service isn't availble in prime markets - keep in mind, English News channels command decent ad-rates (better than all but the highest viewed Hindi channels) simply because of their viewer profile, even if they output utter tripe.
As a GBN shareholder, wouldn't you be concerned that the flagship channel isn't available in lots of homes? Think about it - GBN will have a fairly hefty (though not as ridiculous as Cairn or as ridiculous as DLF is expected to be) priceband. I'm also fairly sure that it will be oversubscribed, but until they get onboard Tata-Sky, they have trouble ahead. Now, what is peculiar is that the other TV-18 channels are on Tata-Sky, but CNN-IBN isn't. The conspiracy theory goes that keeping Rajdeep off Tata-Sky is UndieTV's revenge. But, that is just the conspiracy theory.