Monday, 1 October 2007

Season of Regulations

Regulation of content has been much in the news in the last month. Jovernment's intention of presenting the Broadcasting Services Bill in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament was scuttled down by the Media big-wigs, particularly the news broadcasters in the name of freedom of press. That besides, we cannot under estimate the impact of a bad news or a manipulated news on the gullible masses. They believe what they see.
Television media has much greater impact than the print media as the TV viewers encompass all rich and poor, literates and illiterates, children as well as the elderly. Particularly the lower middle classes and the poorer section of the society that still live with a community feeling are impacted in a big way. We have seen all this happening many times over the last few months. The 'Gurjjar1 agitation, Uma Khurana Case, Patna case of dragging a thief tied behind a police motorcycle are just a few examples. Every day we hear and read about public lynching. All these are caused by incitement created by the electronic media that tries to sensationalise a small event. People try to overdo things in front of the cameras. 

Thus, it is purely commercial interests that lead to such reporting. If there was a true feeling of nationalism or an intention to clean the society, such news would have been projected in a different way. Not only this, news channels hardly show news. It is such reasons that prompt the government to regulate the media and we must gladly accept that regulations are very much required as Indian Television media is not yet matured enough like the print media which is more than 100 years old. Hundreds of television channels are being launched unabated only to make money and not to become a responsible media. Very soon it will go out of proportion if not controlled now. 
Broadband is much in focus these days. With MTNL, BSNL and Bharti getting into IPTV, things are moving faster. But much needs to be done as far as the basic infrastructure is concerned. Aggregating content is another problem. This business is new and may take three to five years to really take off as a mass media. TRAI, the regulator is working day and night, pushing in new regulations to keep up with the developments in the market Quality of Service and Interconnect Regulations for the DTH service are already out before three more players Bharti, Reliance and Sun Direct join the gang. Now consultation papers for IPTV and Mobile TV services are also out. Well, it is time to keep ourselves on the toes. Technologies are moving faster than the market. Sooner we react better it will be for the business. 
One consumer organisation Voice is trying to push back the CAS, perhaps or behest of a pay broadcaster that may cause a lot of harm to the industry. We dc need CAS all over the country to create a level playing field between Cable DTH and IPTV. 
—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma



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