TV guide channel gets ready to air on DTH platform

‘What’s on India’, a TV guide channel, will be available to viewers on some DTH services and cables.

Television guidance channel ‘What’s on India’ is planning to tie up with direct-to-home (DTH) services providers Airtel Digital, Tata Sky and Dish TV as well as with some local cable operators said a senior official. Currently, users of Hathway’s set-top box can view the channel which acts as a programme surfing guide for about 50 different channels available in the country.

“During December, we will be tying up with most of the DTH service providers and channels as part of our expansion strategy,” said Atul Phadnis, founder-promoter and chief executive of What’s On India Media Pvt Ltd.

There is an in-built electronic programme guide (EPG) application available on many of the DTH set top boxes. However, viewers need to surf through it channel-by-channel. What’s on India would provide the channel guide segregated into different categories like, news, films, general entertainment and sports. It will also provide suggestions to the viewer on the best programme or show to watch at a particular time.

Currently, What’s on India provides programme details for about 50 different channels, out of around 350 channels currently being aired in the country. It is planning to increase its channel coverage by adding 75-80 channels and aims to reach about 20 million homes by the first quarter of 2010. “It took me two years to launch this channel. The ministry of information and broadcasting granted us the license early November this year and we commenced our operation by end of November,” said Mr Phadnis.

Before launching the TV guidance channel, the company conducted surveys with a sample size of 2,500 customers from cities including Lucknow, Chandigarh and Allahabad to asses the taste of the viewers. The channel has an analyst team of more than 10 people which decides on what category of the content should be telecasted based on the best content running at that particular time. For example, if the analyst team thinks that the afternoon is best suited for dramas and morning is the best time to telecast religious content, it will select the best content among these two categories and telecast it as the best content available at a particular time slot.
— Pallabika Ganguly
 

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Govt says NTPC deal can't be equated with private accord

The Supreme Court had sought a response after Anil Ambani-led RNRL had consented to the government being made a party to the dispute

The Indian government on Wednesday filed its affidavit in the Supreme Court on the ongoing gas row between the Ambani brothers saying that the arrangement for State-run NTPC Ltd cannot be equated with any agreement between Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL), reports PTI.

The apex court had sought the response after Anil Ambani-led RNRL had consented to the government being made a party to the dispute. RNRL contended that it was entitled to receive the gas at $2.34 per unit from Mukesh Ambani group company RIL which had entered into an arrangement for supplying gas to NTPC at that rate.

"The rights and obligation of NTPC and RIL cannot be regarded as similar in status to the private arrangement as in the case of RIL and RNRL because NTPC is not only a State-run unit but the process involved for price determination in the case of NTPC gas was by international competitive bidding," the government said in the affidavit.

However, the government said the price offered by the contractor to NTPC will require scrutiny and approval of the government under the production sharing contract (PSC).

"The Central government will take an appropriate decision in the case of NTPC as and when a need arises. Such a decision based on public interest, if in favour of NTPC cannot be termed as discriminatory or arbitrary," the affidavit placed before a bench headed by chief justice KG Balakrishnan said.

The government said that a decision in respect of NTPC will be taken when either its rights get established in the pending suit with RIL in the Bombay High Court or if overriding public interest warrants any government intervention.

The decision taken by the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) at its meeting held on 12 September 2007, 28th May and 23 October 2008 additionally reflects that it has not excluded the entitlement of NTPC for consideration.

"It may be pointed out that since there exists an ongoing suit between NTPC and RIL the decisions of the Central government were stated to be without prejudice to the rights of NTPC," the affidavit said.

It said any request of NTPC for supply of gas will be considered by the government in the light of the relevant provisions of the PSC.

Further, the affidavit said the Government has on the one hand left NTPC to establish its right in the pending suit in the High Court, and on the other hand it has not foreclosed any options available under PSC. However, such a decision would be taken by a competent authority keeping in view the charter of the State-run unit and other relevant circumstances having a bearing on public interest.

The government clarified that the affidavit filed on 13 January 2009 before the High court was not intended to convey that the government has rejected the case of NTPC or that it has chosen to signify any implied termination of the State-run unit's rights.

The Ambani brothers are engaged in a high-voltage bitter legal battle over the supply and price of gas from the KG basin. While RNRL is seeking gas at a committed price of $2.34 per unit, RIL says it cannot honour the commitment made in the family agreement due to the government's pricing and gas policy.
-Yogesh Sapkale
 

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Sensex sheds 28 points, ends at 17,170

Profit-booking pulls down markets; auto stocks put up a good show

Indian markets ended up in negative territory, mainly on profit-booking. The Sensex closed at 17,170, declining 28 points from the previous day’s close. The Nifty closed at 5,123; up one point. 

Auto stocks were among the major gainers following strong monthly sales figures for November 2009.

Tata Motors jumped 4% after total sales zoomed 65.49% to 54,108 units in November 2009 over November 2008. Tata Motors’ total passenger vehicle sales in the domestic market grew by 44.52% at 20,706 units last month, against 14,327 units in the same month last year, said the company. Exports jumped by 86.64% at 3,994 units, compared with 2,140 units in the same month last year, it added.

India’s second largest bike maker by sales, Bajaj Auto, shot up 3% after the company said total vehicle sales rose 73% to 2.76 lakh units in November 2009 over November 2008. Motorcycle sales jumped 84% to 2.42 lakh units.

Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) announced a dual-rate loan scheme under which a borrower will be charged a fixed rate up to March 2012 and a floating rate thereafter, after market hours on Tuesday. For a 20-year loan of Rs30 lakh, a borrower will pay a fixed rate of 8.25% up to March 2012 and then a floating rate that will be 500 basis points below the prime lending rate (PLR)—the institution’s benchmark rate. Currently, the PLR is 13.75%. The stock was down 2%.

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) was down 1%. As per reports, the company’s unit has signed agreements to pick up stake in a giant gas field and an LNG plant in Iran.

Jaiprakash Associates gained 1% after it posted 48.77% jump in its cement sales to 1.03 million tonnes in November 2008 over November 2008.

ACC fell 1% after cement shipments fell 4.04% to 1.66 million tonnes in November 2009 from 1.73 million tonnes in November 2008 while Shree Cement remained flat after the company’s cement shipments rose 15.28% to 7.09 lakh tonnes in November 2009 over November 2008.

Sterlite Industries declined 1% on reports the government could mop up close to Rs3,000 crore from the sale of its residual stake in Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO), to Sterlite Industries. Sterlite had bought 51% of BALCO in March 2001 for Rs552 crore from the government.

Indiabulls Real Estate surged 5% after a foreign brokerage raised its rating on the stock to ‘overweight’ from ‘underweight’.

Bharati Shipyard shot up 11% following its decision to increase the open offer price for Great Offshore by 5.4% to Rs590 a share from Rs560 earlier. The open offer for a 20% stake in the offshore drilling company will remain open from 3 December to 22 December 2009. However, Great Offshore tumbled 6% after two block deals were executed in the stock. One bulk deal of 10 lakh shares was struck at Rs575 on the Bombay Stock Exchange. ABG Shipyard said it has sold its stake in Great Offshore, ending a six-month battle with rival Bharati Shipyard for a controlling stake in the offshore services provider. ABG, along with its unit, sold 30.78 lakh shares of Great Offshore, or about 8.27% of equity, through a stock market sale, it said. ABG was up 10%.

Fedders Lloyd Corporation rose 5% after a consortium of the company received an order worth Rs120 crore.

According to the finance ministry, the World Bank has committed to increase its lending to India to about $7 billion this year from an average $2.30 billion in the previous four years. India has also sought early completion of the process of voice and quota reforms at the World Bank to increase the representation of emerging and developing countries, the ministry said.

In September 2009, the World Bank approved $4.30 billion in loans for India to help finance infrastructure building and to shore up the capital of some State-run banks as the economy recovers from the global financial crisis. The loans are part of the bank’s $14 billion lending for Asia’s third-largest economy over three years through 2012.

Meanwhile, the government has reportedly drawn up a list of 25 State firms for stake sales which include Nuclear Power Corporation of India, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, Exim Bank of India, Punjab & Sind Bank, Indian Railways Finance Corporation and National Housing Bank.

As per reports, other companies planning initial public offers (IPOs) include SBI Caps and SBI Fund Management, both subsidiaries of government-controlled State Bank of India.

Many of these IPOs could hit the market after the follow-on public offers of 5% each in NTPC and Rural Electrification Corporation, and a 10% stake sale in unlisted Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam are completed in the current financial year, the report added.

During the day, Asia’s key benchmark indices in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan were up by between 0.37%-1.40%.

After Dubai World announced plans to restructure $26 billion of its debt, the Dubai government made it clear that it was not responsible for Dubai World’s debts. This was a blow to creditors’ assumptions that the Arab emirate would guarantee the government-controlled conglomerate’s liabilities.

On Wednesday, 1 December 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 127 points while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 13 points and 31 points respectively on upbeat economic news and fading fears about the Dubai debt crisis.

As per key US economic news, the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index expanded for a fourth consecutive month in November but at a weaker pace, falling to 53.6 from 55.7 in October.

In premarket trading, the Dow was trading nine points higher.
— Swapnil Suvarna
 

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