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On campaign trail, carrying Dish TV on wheels - Digital drive
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[Image: 2i06oid.jpg] A car with a Dish antenna

Calcutta, April 4: Elections are a good time to remember Gandhi and hit the road to discover India. But this time, politicians are also taking a slice of their drawing room with them.

Political heavyweights who have already hit the campaign trail are now busy fitting digital TV units in their official vehicles to keep themselves abreast of developments across the country.

The list includes people like L.K. Advani, Mayavati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Narendra Modi, M. Karunanidhi, Chandrababu Naidu, Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy and Vasundhara Raje. As for railway minister Lalu Prasad, he has already installed the service in his personal compartment.

Dish TV, the direct-to-home (DTH) service provider that is offering this facility, has confirmed the above list.

“Political leaders need to keep themselves updated on real-time basis. And we are providing just that. The mobility factor is attracting the politicians most,” Dish TV India chief operating officer (COO) Salil Kapoor said.

As Dish TV broadcasts regional channels, it helps politicians be aware of regional sentiments, sources said, echoing what Mahatma Gandhi had stressed decades ago.

The nation’s Father had said “true India is to be found not in its few cities, but in its seven hundred thousand villages. If the villages perish, India will perish too.”

Kapoor said politicians might use laptops while travelling but not all TV channels, particularly regional ones, can be accessed properly on the Internet. “This is where Dish TV has the advantage.”

The Dish TV official said politicians accounted for around 50 per cent of the company’s “Dish on Mobile” sales, while industry sources said more and more enquiries were coming in from leaders and party workers across the country.

There are, at present, five private DTH operators in India.

A mobile DTH unit costs about Rs 1.45 lakh. It can be fitted in a car, bus or any sports utility vehicle (SUV), sources in Dish TV, which has already sold over 500 units, said. However, only large cars qualify for this mobile DTH service.

Dish TV, which had been testing the product in alliance with Israeli firm Raysat, began marketing it aggressively some three months back.

“The demand for mobile Dish TV is growing at a rate of about 30-40 per cent month-on-month. States such as Delhi, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are driving the sales,” Kapoor said.

Stock brokers, business barons and film stars like Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgan and Mammootty are also availing themselves of the service, the COO said. “We can say that most of these consumer categories have subscribed to our mobile DTH units,” he added.

Dish TV sources said the company was in talks with bus-maker Volvo and several car dealers to fit digital TV sets in their vehicles. “We are also negotiating with the Indian Railways to set up digital TV units in their luxury coaches,” Kapoor said.

The sources said the service had also attracted inter-city luxury bus services, airlines, yachts and ships. Mobile Dish TV units have already been fitted in 15 Kingfisher planes.

The company, part of Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group, is positioning the service as a luxury product. “We are not looking at the product as a mass seller. Chauffeur-driven luxury cars as well as ships and luxury buses and trains are our target customers,” Kapoor said.

The company is in talks with automobile manufacturers like General Motors and Ford to promote the service,” Kapoor said.

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