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Domestic set top makers dream of a Rs. 45 billion turnover

Budget hike in STB import duty raises hopes and triggers plans

Domestic set-top-box makers are looking at Rs 4,500 crore turnover in 2013-14 by capturing 50 percent market share, as hiking import duty on such devices is expected to boost indigenous manufacturing.

Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA) also hopes to to create 12,000 new jobs.

"With rationalisation of import duty, 50 percent of STBs would be made in the country. Taking the final product price to be about Rs 1,500, indigenous manufacturers would have a turnover of Rs 4,500 crores, with 50 percent market share," CEAMA President Anirudh V Dhoot told PTI

The Budget 2013-14 presented by Finance Minister P Chidambaram proposed a hike in import duty of set-top-boxes from 5 percent to 10 percent.

CEAMA estimates that the total demand for set-top-box (STBs) would be about 60 million and the turnover of overall STB segment would be around Rs 9,000 crore in the next one year.

Dhoot said that as per industry average about 250 workers are required to produce 2 lakh STBs in a month.

"The direct employment for only assembly of STBs would be about 3,000 persons. If we take this into account, the employment generated in the manufacturing of inputs, the total employment would work out to about 10,000 to 12,000 persons," he said.

Foreign STB makers almost wiped out domestic players during phase I and II of cable TV digitalisation with around 95 market share.

Out of total installation of about 55 million units, domestic players have been able to sell about 10 million units of STB as on December, 2012.

In a pre-budget data shared with India's Department of Electronics and Information Technology, CEAMA had said Indian players are losing business to imported STBs due to price difference arising out of tax structure.

At basic production cost of Rs 1,012 per unit, the final price of STB made by Indian players lands in the market for Rs 1,296.27 compared to Rs 1,202.5 per unit price of imported STB, CEAMA had said before Budget was presented in Parliament on February 28.

One good indicator for manufacturers is that DTH operators may not be in a position to absorb the duty hike. "A set-top box, priced at around Rs 1,000, will see an increase of around 5%. We were subsidizing the costs in a big way already, so it will not be possible to absorb this hike" a spokesperson for a major cable television service operator based in Mumbai said.

"We do not want to go outside India for products and subject ourselves to the fluctuations of foreign exchange, but we have to import out of compulsion. There are no quality local manufactures who can supply the required quantity of set-top boxes" said Harit Nagpal, MD and CEO, Tata Sky. The hike in duty will cost the industry $20 million more in one year and this will have to be passed on to consumers, Nagpal said.

Manufacturers hope to capitalize on the duty hike to try to emulate foreign suppliers.

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