Monday, 1 December 2008

Keep Up The Morale

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai has left us shattered and angry. Hope we can get over this tragedy soon. This tragedy is very different from many others we had seen in our country because firstly it lasted pretty long and secondly the Television Media gave us a feel of it all 24x7 for the 60 hours and still continue to do so let us pray for all those who gave their life for the country and who lost their life in such a mindless act. When the US financial melt down started two month ago, we were given the impression that India was not much affected. When the sensex crashed for the first time, we were still given the impression that Indian banks were safe and business would go on as usual. However, very soon the malaise spread allover, first the inflow of FDI installments to many companies was stopped . Then we saw companies cutting down on their expenses. Many employees lost their jobs, Even some CEOs were given the pink slips. And now the studio workers are on a strike demanding higher wages. This has halted the production business in the industry resulting in heavy losses. Trai has given their recommendations on the entry of other entities in Broadcasting. If cleared by the government, this would annoy many political parties and state governments who either already had such ventures or are planning to start one because TRAI has not recommended political parties and religious organizations to get in to broadcasting. Even the ARASU cable network started by Tamilnadu government recently will have to be wound up. Content code is once again in the lime light with the Supreme Court directing the government to submit a code on the lines of a draft submitted by the IBF. This subject was also discussed in the FOCUS 2008, a summit on the business of entertainment organized by ASSOCHAM last month. Mrs Sushma Singh, in her inaugural speech in that summit talked about every issue being considered by the government including HITS, IPTV, DTH etc but was quiet on implementation of CAS in cable TV. I think the government does not have the will to do it or they are under immense pressure by some lobby to keep the issue pending under some excuse or the other. TDSAT also held a seminar in Ranchi on the subject of consumer complaint redressal in the broadcast and telecom industry. It has promised to spend its own funds for hepling small and rural area cable operators to fight their cases. Good news in the last month was NDS announcing the investment of 150 million dollars in India to enhance their presence in every field, when all other companies were cutting down on their investments. 

December 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008 -- TRAI issued a consultation paper on quality of service (Qos) issues for cable TV services in Non-CAS areas and for DTH services. 

Friday, 21 November 2008

Code Of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards

This is the text of much talked about self regulatory code framed by the News Broadcasters Association which is to be implemented by a nine member authority headed by Justice J.S. Verma Former Chief Justice of India.
The Constitution of India guarantees to all its citizens, the right to free speech, which right has been liberally construed by our Supreme Court as encompassing not just the freedom of press, but also the right of the citizen to be informed of matters of public moment and concern.

PARENTING MEDIA NBA Formed Disputes Redressal Authority

What do NDTV, Times Now, CNN-IBN, Zee, Sun TV, ETV etc. to name a few, have in common? They all belong to the media fraternity and are members of News Broadcasters association (NBA). Presently, out of hundred news channels across the country only thirty news channels are members of NBA. And Disputes Redressal Authority , the newly launched body, that has paved the way of the electronic media towards self-regulation, is the brainchild of News Broadcasters Association.
The media as we know, plays significant role in a democracy. It is considered to be the fourth pillar on which a democratic country stands. The television, radio and print media are the most popular and effective means of dissemination of information and communication in the masses. Thus it is the most effective tool to motivate and guide the people, to show the direction, towards right or wrong, towards progression or destruction.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Interoperability Challenge When Transitioning To A File-based Workflow

The broadcast industry today is in the throes of change. Broadcasters are faced with the need to transition from standard- to high-definition services and, as they begin to do so, they are finding themselves faced with a host of new challenges. Not least of these challenges is the need to move from their traditional tape-based infrastructures to today’s file-based workflow.
There are many reasons for the change that is happening. First is the inevitable fact that archived tape content will degrade over time; companies that do not change to a file-based system will ultimately face losing valuable content.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Self-Regulations Not Adequate

News Broadcaster's Association has announced a complaint redressal authority headed by an ex Chief Justice of India. This is their step towards self regulations as they have been suggesting to the government from time to time. On the surface this looks very fine but whether this will succeed or remain on paper is highly doubtful. The very fact that a complainant has to pay Rs.1000/- before he complains will dissuade him to do so. This complaint redressal only appears to be for the rich and they have many better ways to do that. Not only the above, the recent strictures and comments by a Supreme Court Bench questioning the government while admonishing the broadcasters for dishing out unabated obscenity and violence in a PIL filed by an NGO indicates that self regulations are not adequate for the Indian broadcasters. Our industry is not yet matured enough to regulate themselves. Increasing competition in an uncertain market makes them go beyond the ethics in garnering TRPs. Airtel has finally launched their DTH service. Their late entry has invited a lot of competition from the existing operators, particularly from Reliance's Big TV who as per market reports tried to hijack their launch ad campaign. Even the other two operators Tata Sky and Dish TV are commencing their DVR/PVR services to increase their value addition. The competition in the DTH market will more be on technical grounds now. The next technology to be expected is high definition. Inspite of all the free buys and plethora of on demand movies offered by all the DTH players, it is heartening to know that the set-top-box penetration in the CAS notified areas increased by 13%. It is unfortunate that we are intentionally scuttling the growth of Cable TV by not implementing CAS in the whole country while allowing other technologies to grow. TRAI has released a consultation paper on Cross Media Ownership to give their recommendations to the government.This issue is very relevant as every large company is trying to expand vertically as well as horizontally in all segments of media and entertainment creating huge monopolies. If not curbed now, we will land up with one or two company dominating the scene. The global financial crises are affecting the broadcasting industry too. Post Diwali the condition seems to be getting better. Let us hope for the best. 

November 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008 -- Radio IIMT 90.4 FM started its Broadcast from Meerut (UP).

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

CARRIAGE FEE

A Bone of Contention
On 3rd of September two private channels, Total TV and Chardhikala Time TV approached TDSAT against Prasar Bharti’s move to increase the fee for carrying their channels on its DTH platform DD Direct. Prasar Bharti had last month increased the carriage fee for their DD Direct+ DTH platform from 25 lakhs to 60 lakhs.

Government Eye on Media Ownership

TRAI released a consultation paper on Media Ownership on 23 September 2008. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) vide their letter dated 22/5/2008 has sought TRAI's recommendations on the need for cross media and ownership restrictions in India for radio, broadcasting and print medias. These recommendations have been sought under Section 11(1)(a) (ii)and (iv) of the TRAI Act. 
Government of India has provided for restrictions in ownership of companies seeking licenses/permissions/ registrations under various Policy Guidelines issued from time to time for electronic media. As of now such restrictions are in place with respect to DTH services and Private FM radio. TRAI has also been recommending similar restrictions in its various recommendations on Private Terrestrial TV, Headend-In-The-Sky (HITS) and Mobile TV. These have come at different times and stages of growth. Therefore there is a need to lay down a holistic and clear cut approach towards cross-media and ownership restrictions for the future growth of these sectors. 

Censorship Era Is Bygone Today, ‘self-regulation’ Is The Mantra

"Regulations that 'drive certain ideas or viewpoints from the marketplace' for the benefit of children risk destroying the very political system and cultural life' that they will inherit when they come of age." United States District Court, in ACLU v. Reno, June 11, 1996.
Censorship in television is a very debatable topic in today’s media and social realms. Nowadays what is considered appropriate by many may actually be considered explicit or unsuitable by the people in charge. Given the current concerns with television content and media scenario, many argue that Censorship may be the only way out to harness this medium. I strongly believe otherwise. Censorship attempts by the government (CBFC) in films till date is a good example of this futile exercise. But even more important to remember is that Censorship of television and radio not only defies the constitution, but also defies fairness and defies the proper role that a government should have. 

Guideline for IPTV

IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a system where a digital television service is delivered using the Internet Protocol over a network infrastructure, which may include delivery by a broadband connection. A simpler definition would be, television content that, instead of being delivered through traditional format and cabling, is received by the viewer through the technologies used for computer network. In case of IPTV, it requires either a computer and software media player or an IPTV set top box to decode the images in real time.

“Carriage Fee is Our Right”

Says Roop Sharma on the recent controversy in the matter where the broadcasters have expressed that they are being victimized by the MSOs, Cable Operators and DTH Players.
Cable TV started in India in 1989 but all other technology platforms for television delivery have been made addressable and with conditional access, giving them a more regulated and transparent regime. Cable however, is still suffering from lack of a proper regulatory regime. Implementation of CAS has been kept pending since 2003 under some pretext or the other, mostly on political grounds, where as other technologies like DTH, HITS and IPTV which also operate nationwide delivering the same content to the same population and all fully addressable, have been allowed to be launched and take a lead over cable. Thus, there are more investments coming in these new platforms of television delivery and they are on the growth path from the day one.

Monday, 20 October 2008

DVB-S2 The Next Generation Standard

As the technology is going ahead with a rocketing speed, India too is pacing with it and have shaken the world to get noticed. Due to rapid development most companies of the world are queuing up to please the Indian consumer as well raise the standard of life. And that is why, perhaps, more and more companies are introducing their upgraded products. Till now, most Indian companies had been using their S (satellite) technology, which specifies the use of QPSK modulation along with various tools for channel coding and error correction. 
The original DVB-S technology dates back to 1995 and was intended for delivery of broadcast services. In India, companies like TATA Sky, DISH TV, Sun Direct, BigTV, Doordarshan, each and every TV Channel, News Agencies and even data signals have been making use of this technology to provide satellite television to Indian masses. However, the introduction of the S2 technology by DVB is set to give Indian broadcasting a complete makeover. DVB-S2 is the second generation of the S-technology and comprises a variety of new features. DVB-S2 is based on the DVB-S standard which is used for satellite broadcasting, and the DVB-DSNG standard, which is used by mobile units for sending external footage back to television stations. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Government should wake-up

For the last one year Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) entrusted with the task of regulating the telecom and broadcast industry has been busy doing consultancy with stake holders on various issues like broadband penetration, FDI, restructuring of Cable TV, digitization of Cable networks, IPTV, Mobile TV, DTH Technology, TRPs and now carriage fee and cross media holdings. This has made the industry extremely busy in finding solutions to its own problems where government gets to know how the regulations could make life easier. Unfortunately all this hardwork has remained only on papers as the Cabinet nod has been given only to one issue ie. IPTV operation. This too, I believe is because both MTNL and BSNL the two giants of Telecom industry working under the government protection are unable to get a headway in their IPTV operations for the last two years. So within a few months of initiating the process TRAI has given its recommendations and surprisingly, they were cleared in a jiffy where the bigger issues like implementing digitization and CAS, channel pricing and content regulations are just gathering dust in the ministry cupboards and may die their own death leaving the industry to fend for itself.

October 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 -- TDSAT directed MSM Discovery, distributor of broadcasters Sony and Discovery to provide Channels on a-la-carte basis to Sun Direct.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Need for a Firm Regulatory Body for Television Content

Regulation of content has become most contentious issue these days. The issue comes up in every forum where I & B officials and broadcasters meet. News channels raised a lot of dust during the panel discussion in News Television Summit last month where the new I & B Secretary, Mrs Sushma Singh was also present. The broadcasters just not want any government regulations. Mrs Singh observed that the content code had to be at par with the changing times. She informed that the Centre is having a fresh look at the content code for television programmes since the current code was outdated. Referring to the opposition of the content code from private news broadcasters, she said, “Instead of opposing it, they should discuss the matter with the government.” 

TRAI Recommends BARC For TRP Monitoring

TRAI releaseed Final Recommendations on the “Policy Guidelines and Operational issues for Television Audience Measurement/ Television Rating Points (TRPs)” on 19 August 2008.
The need for an appropriate framework which ensures transparency, independence of rating agencies and increased coverage reflecting the plurality of regions and viewership made the I&B Ministry seek these guidelines from TRAI. 

Is Our Time Now?

The LCOs have been given a new lease of life with the final Recommendations of TRAI for Restructuring the Cable TV Services. Now it is the turn of LCOs to give it back to the government by preparing their networks for the New Generation Network Services, feels Roop Sharma, President of the Cable Operators Federation of India.
TRAI has finally given their recommendations on 'Restructuring of Cable TV Services' on 25 July 2008. Their efforts are highly commendable because the recommendations, apparently has been finalized after studying every aspect of this unorganized industry. These recommendations will undoubtedly pave way for a growth oriented future of the industry where this vast infrastructure of 78 million connections will get converted into a state of the art New Generation Network infrastructure. However I wish to emphasise to all cable operators that-

Saturday, 20 September 2008

The Future of Broadband

One of the great divides of our time is between classical media sociologists and mathematics. Sociologists offer us 'futurology' based on current social divisions and statistical analysis. Technology evolution is often seen as given out by the 'hand of providence', in all its mystery. The media has, at any given time, an 'agenda' set by conspiracies of human beings. These theories are wrong. They may be wishful thinking for a simple life, but they are not the truth.
In fact, there is no unique future. There are few conspiracies. Our society and media evolution are mathematically 'chaotic' systems. There are large numbers of variables and factors which influence events. The future is defined by an equation with many variables and much 'non-linearity. Everything happens because of a cause and an effect'. The equation of the future has multiple solutions, and one of them will win because of events which may not yet have happened. Trends and tendencies can be spotted, but the precise future cannot be known - at least not until we have very much more powerful computers to solve the equations.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Beginning of the IP Era

Two great things happened last month. First the approval of IPTV recommendations by the Cabinet and second the recommendations on VOIP by TRAI. Now the telecom companies can start their IPTV operations without any legal hassels. This will bring them in direct competition with the cable operators for providing satellite channels and other video content to the 130 million TV households. They can also now ask the broadcasters to provide them with all their signals.
VOIP recommendations have enabled the ISPs to provide voice based srevices to the consumers. Now they too can get into the business of basic telephony. The best part is that many of the Telcos and ISPs may provide their broadband services through the last mile operators who already have fiber and CAT-5 cables laid. This will give the LCOs another revenue source. 

September 2008


Monday, September 01, 2008 -- TRAI announced further measures to improve transparency in tariff offers and to protect the interest of mobile consumers.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

TRAI For Expert Body to Monitor TRPs

TRAI released their draft recommendations on the much debated ‘Television Rating Points’ measurement system on 24 July 2008. In the open house discussions earlier, the industry was divided over the control and management of the system. The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) prefer to have a joint industry body to look after the matter without any government intervention where as Consumer bodies, Cable Operators Associations and MSOs feel the government control to some extent is necessary. Television Rating Points (TRPs) have been subject of much debate over issues on lack of transparency, inadequate sample size in terms of numbers as well as coverage in respect of platforms, some of the states and rural areas not getting any representation at all; leakage of panel homes which could lead to manipulated ratings, inadequate competition in rating services, and channels replicating content in their chase for higher TRPs to garner higher ad revenues. The viewer therefore, also becomes an important stakeholder in this business of ratings. There is thus a strong case for review of the present ratings system in India, both from the perspective of consumer welfare as well as to bring in greater transparency and its impact on competition in the market.

TRAI Sets A Time Frame of Five Years for Digital Transmission Through Cable TV

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has send its final recommendations on “Restructuring of Cable TV Services” to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. If acted upon by the Government it will not only revamp the Cable TV industry but would also put India on the map of developed countries with predominant share of digital transmission of entertainment content. 
The spectacular growth of Indian Cable TV industry during the past two decades has been largely due to entrepreneurial skills of Cable TV operators.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Digital Revolutions Is Here

Wire and Wireless (WWIL) brings first time in the country ‘HITS’ – World’s Most Advanced Satellite Digital Television Delivery Platform.
In a major initiative, first of its kind that will change the complete landscape of media distribution, Wire and Wireless (India) Ltd., a Zee Network Enterprise and India’s No.1 Cable TV Network, has launched Headend- in- the- Sky (HITS), a satellite based delivery platform for million of customers and Local Cable Operators(LCOs) across India.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Building New Gen Network

The recently released data by TRAI declared a massive 286.86 million subscribers in the wireless domain. Total number of telephone connections has reached 325.78 million making the overall tele-density to 28.33 percent. In spite of such an encouraging report the downside is that in the wire-line segment, the subscriber base has decreased to 38.92 million in Jan’08 from 39.05 million in May’08.
This is a point to ponder. It depicts how our wired market is behaving. Unfortunately, come what may, it is the wired segment that will lead us to the new generation networks of tomorrow rather than the wireless segment which may be easy to establish but difficult to sustain in the future because of its bandwidth limitations. Wireless is good to fillup the communications divide but not the broadband divide. 

August 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008 -- Videocon group obtained license to start its Direct-to-Home (DTH) services.

Monday, 21 July 2008

DVB-H: Indian Perspectiva

VB-H is the leading global technology standard from the DVB Organization for transmission of Digital TV targeting handheld, battery powered devices such as mobile telephones, PDAs etc. Published as a formal standard (EN 203 204) by ETSI (European Telecom Standards Institute) in November 2004, it is a physical layer specification designed to enable efficient delivery of IP encapsulated data over terrestrial networks. It is a non proprietary open standard. After the successful testing of mobile reception using DVB-T, possibility for broadcasting to handheld was explored by DVB organization. The key application in mind were Mobile TV, Video streaming in general & File Downloads-all targeted at handheld receivers operating on limited battery life and difficult reception condition. With this background the specifications for DVB-H were framed. 

RIGHT OF WAY DEMANDED BY MSO’s and Cable Operators

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has constituted a Sub-Commitee for rationalization of ‘Right of Way’ charges for the Cable Television Industry. First meeting of the sub-commiteehaving representation from all the stake holders was held in the Ministry on 11 June 2008 under the Chairmanship of Sh. Uday Kumar Verma, Add Secy., Ministry of I&B Since 1990 yet it dose not have a clearcut defined right of way regulation for laying its networks. Every State government, Municipal Authority and the Electricity Board has its own way of charging the Cable Operators for using electric poles or laying underground cables. The rates vary tremendously from state to state. This cost if ultimately passed on to the consumers.
We all know that cable TV has become an essential service in the country, being a mass media for information and entertainment of the masses including the ones staying in rural and remote areas. Infact cable TV in the last fifteen years has changed the whole economy of the country.

News Broadcasting Standards (Disputes Redressal) Authority An Initiative of the News Broadcasters

Discussions on Regulating the television content has ben going on since last one year after the government had put up a draft content regulations on the I&B Ministry’s website. The broadcasters had vehemently opposed any government regulatory control on them in the name of ‘freedom of press’ and decided to draft their own self regulations instead. Consequently News Broadcasters Association (NBA), an association of all news broadcasters formed last year for the purpose, drafted their own dispute redressal mechanism and a self regulatory code. Under these proposed regulations News Broadcasting Standards Dispute Redressal Authority would take care of any complaints.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

New Improved Methods o Measure Digital DTH Signals

With the booming DTH market, it's important to understand what type of measurements one need in order to achieve the best installation result.
First of all, we can read the traditional measurements as in the analogue days i.e. RF level and Carrier to Noise (signal to noise) CNR or SNR.

WiMAX Technology in India

WiMAX, or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a wireless telecommunications technology capable of providing data over long distances in a variety of ways, from point-to-point links to offering full mobile cellular access. It is also known as wireless broadband and fits between wireless LANs, such as 802.11, and wireless WANs (wide-area networks), such as the cellular networks.
It is a cost effective and viable solution of wireless transmission based on the IEEE standard 802.16 that stands for worldwide interoperability for microwave access. Aiming to be a vendor/ carrier, independent service where different equipment manufactures can communicate with each other easily the WiMAX Forum is a non-profit agency responsible for bringing WiMAX to the light of the day. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Right of Way

The broadcasters may shout on top of their voice that they can self-regulate themselves and do not require any intervention from the government, it has been proved time and again that they are not yet matured enough to do that. The rising competition amongst ever increasing number of TV channels has brought under scanner the objectionable, vulgar and violent content being dished out unabated by these channels to increase their TRP’s and ad revenues. The government is worried about this and issuing warning after warning every month but there is no end to this game and the government has been forced to bring the content as well as the TRP system under a regulatory regime.
The Arushi murder case is one such incident which has been exploited by all news channels last month. Woman and Child Welfare Minister Renuka Chowdhary had to oppose making of a serial on the case by Balaji Television to be telecast on Star Plus. I&B Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi had to ask the Star Plus management not to exploit the situation. Court had to tell the news channels not to become the judge themselves and mislead the public, hampering the process of justice. 

July 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 -- A 24 year old cable operator was brutally killed at Towdiarpet in north Chennai.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

-Restructuring Of Cable TV-

Trai has started a consultation process to restructure the cable TV industry. Two open house discussions were held in Bhopal and Pune respectively in the last two months. However, I fail to understand the need of such an elaborate exercise which may not lead to any fruitful results. 
What could be the aim of this consultation? To save the multi crore industry run by thousands of small entrepreneurs or to eliminate them altogether to make way for the big sharks to grab the pie in the name of organizing the industry? The industry was organised in 1994.

TRAI Releases Consultation Paper on Relaxing Restrictive Provisions of VoIP

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has issued a consultation paper on the “Issues Related to Internet Telephony” on 12 May 2008. Authority has recently taken major initiatives which will enable Indian populace to reap the benefits of technological advancements. In this connection Authority has already issued consultation papers on ‘Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)’ and ‘Carrier Selection’. Moving further in this direction is initiation of consultation process on Internet Telephony. 
Internet Protocol (IP) with robust network can support multiple applications and cater to large number of users. Deployment of IP Networks by telecom service providers has been on the rise all over the world. Currently, different services are being run over IP based networks including Voice over IP (VoIP). The popularity of IP network world over can be gauzed from the tremendous rise in IP traffic recently. As per Cybermedia Center, Osaka University, IP traffic growth rate is 100% on year–to-year basis as compared to 8% growth of voice traffic. It is projected that in the near future IP Based networks will be used for providing end-to-end telecom services including triple play services and may eventually takeover conventional voice networks. 

Regulating Television Ratings

Indian viewers started their journey with two channels in 1991, now have crossed the mark of 300 channels and are at 313 as on 16th January, 2008.The number of channels is expected to reach 465 by the end of the 11th Plan. This has resulted in the battle for the eyeballs becoming more fierce amongst the broadcasters.

TRAI’s Proposal for Value Added Services

TRAI released a consultation paper on Growth of Value Added Services and Regulatory Issues on 28th May, 2008. Consultation paper focuses on the approach for the growth, regulatory guidelines and terms and conditions in respect of licensing and provisioning of Value Added Services. The telecommunication services today have moved beyond their fundamental role of voice communications to a spectrum of non-core services, which in telecommunication parlance is called Value Added Services (VAS).In times to come people will buy mobile phones or any end user terminal device not just to remain connected for access but to express themselves in a variety of ways. Value Added Services are provided either directly by the telecom operators or by a third party Value Added Service Providers. 
In India the revenue (estimated) from mobile Value Added Services is over 10 to 14% of the total revenue of mobile telecom service providers which is expected to cross 30% of the total revenue in the next 5-7 years. Today SMS constitutes major portion of the VAS revenue. While entertainment services have become popular with the consumers, there remains a scope for utility based services like location information, mobile commerce (M-Commerce)for mobile transactions etc. The service providers will shift their focus from subscriber base expansion to Value Added Services, as these services have the potential to generate good revenue for the telecom operators.

Restructuring Of Cable TV

Trai has started a consultation process to restructure the cable TV industry. Two open house discussions were held in Bhopal and Pune respectively in the last two months. However, I fail to understand the need of such an elaborate exercise which may not lead to any fruitful results. 
What could be the aim of this consultation? To save the multi crore industry run by thousands of small entrepreneurs or to eliminate them altogether to make way for the big sharks to grab the pie in the name of organizing the industry? The industry was organised in 1994.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Conax Conditional Access Helping Indian digital-TV Operators secure their revenues

The broadcast industry in India is gearing up for the government’s push toward mandatory conditional access (content security) for the cable TV industry. Conax is aware that piracy in terms of illegal content redistribution is an increasing source of revenue loss for broadcasters in India. To respond to this challenge, leading content security provider Conax is working together with customers and partners in India to combat this form of piracy and build a solid defence against potential pirates.
Conax Access Systems Private Limited, India, was established in 2003. The subsidiary has operation centres both in New Delhi and Mumbai, serving a number of satellite and cable customers including Essel’s Dish TV, one of the fastest growing DTH operations in the world. Conax has made significant in-roads into the Indian market, and has so far supplied more than 4 million smart cards in India.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Restructuring Of Cable TV

In continuing its effort to regularize the industry, TRAI is now serious in restructuring the cable television industry. Last month it had two open house discussions with the stake holders, one in Bhopal and the other in Pune. The subject effects so many last mile operators and MSOs that even two open house sessions may not be adequate. Unfortunately many cable operators have not yet felt the importance of the subject, due to a long lasting stalemate in the industry. I feel they have resigned to their fate or have shifted their focus on other business, only waiting for some miracle to happen in the industry. 
Taming the television ratings and viewer ship is another issue that created quite a stir in the industry last month. The open house discussions attracted many stake holders. All advertising agencies and broadcasters were confident of making their newly formed BARC as the apex body for the purpose rather than let the government control them. Contrary to this, the consumers and network operators wanted strict government regulations as consumers were highly effected by the TRPs, considering that the content that they consume is effected by them. All channels provide the same type of content that gets the high TRPs, on one channel. Broadcasters have also been successful in delaying introduction of the content code as the meeting of stake holders committee that was to take place in the I&B ministry last month has been postponed indefinitely. Since the next general elections are approaching soon, it appears the government will go slow on any new regulation to avoid any controversy. 
Although in principal the government has cleared CAS implementation, the broadcasters have, once again put a spoke by bringing in the piracy issue. Surprisingly government has accepted such a frivolous issue to stop modernization of the cable networks and sacrifice benefit to the consumers. They did not have any hitch introducing CAS in DTH, IPTV, mobile communications etc as if these were all fool proof systems not susceptible to piracy. It is also strange that broadcasters start shouting on their voice for self regulations only when government tries to tighten up the noose on them. Content code, Broadcasting Bill and CAS implementation are clear examples. In practice they do nothing. Even now the ads get banned for obscenity. 
DTH is in the hot news once again with Reliance announcing a massive marketing blitz selling their package for Rs.1000/- for the existing DTH subscribers. This has already set in a battle situation in the market with Dish TV giving STBs free. What I have noticed in the last three years is that DTH operators have not made any considerable dent in the cable market and are more busy fighting a war amongst themselves. Even the latest Dish TV ad showing SRK literally begging the consumers to take a free Dish connection saying “Ab to wish karo Dish karo” indicates this fact. Well that is the power of cable. In the near future after the cable TV is restructured I have full belief that even the telecom operators will use cable last mile for their triple play. 
This month we shall see you all in Singapore in “Broadcast Asia 2008” from 17-20 Jun.

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma

Editor

Source: http://cablequest.org/articles/editorials/item/1815-restructuring-of-cable-tv.html

June 2008

Monday, June 02, 2008 -- 40,000 employees of Prasar Bharti observe a ‘tool down’ strike in New Delhi.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Identifying Satellites In A Crowded Sky

Crowded satellite sky’s over India is causing unique technical issues whilst aligning dishes for the DTH providers.
With the booming DTH market and the lack of bandwidth it has caused additional problems for the DTH provider apart from the rain fade problems during monsoon period.

-Resurrection of CAS-

Ending all speculation surrounding the roll-out of conditional access system (CAS) in the country, the government on 8-Apr-2008 gave in-principle approval to CAS extension in rest of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, and subsequently in 55 cities in a phased manner as suggested by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) held a meeting between the representative of the cable industry, broadcasters, consumer organizations and several state government officials, and said the roll-out would be done in phases.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Resurrection of CAS

Ending all speculation surrounding the roll-out of conditional access system (CAS) in the country, the government on 8-Apr-2008 gave in-principle approval to CAS extension in rest of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, and subsequently in 55 cities in a phased manner as suggested by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). .
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) held a meeting between the representative of the cable industry, broadcasters, consumer organizations and several state government officials, and said the roll-out would be done in phases.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Passive Optical Networks

Unlocking the Bandwidth Potential of Fiber
The need for telcos to deliver the Triple Play of voice, video and data in order to compete with services offered by cable companies has reignited focus on broadband optical access systems based on Passive Optical Networking (PON). While the economic downturn stalled implementations of new technologies as the communications industry focused on maximizing revenue from existing infrastructure (such as DSL over copper wires), the Triple Play has returned PON to the frontline of emerging technologies. PON components are key to unlocking the bandwidth potential of fiber.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Going Forward with Regulations

TRAI’s enthusiasm in drafting new regulations for the Industry has not yet died down. Last month we saw TRAI declare DTH bouquet/channel prices. Also open house discussions were held on entry of other entities in broadcasting and distribution and revision of Foreign Investments in the industry, Sad that the attendance of stake holders was very low. Final recommendations of TRAI on FDI have also been sent to the Ministry. They have recommended 74% FDI for Cable networking raising it from 49%, which may prove good to attract foreign equity from people who are interested to consolidate the networks using convergence technologies and still maintain the status of the small cable operators intact. Most of the Indian companies, unfortunately, create an impression of a total take over that scares the LCOs to support them whole heartedly. 

May 2008


Thursday, May 01, 2008 -- A new Hindi news channel ‘India News’ has been launched. A part from news the channel has also streamlined few laugh riot programmes for viewers.

Monday, 21 April 2008

TRAI No More FDI In Cable

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a consultation paper on 3rd March 08 for reviewing the foreign-direct-investment (FDI) limits imposed on all sectors of the broadcasting industry, a move that could result in major liberalization of foreign-ownership regulations.
TRAI has asked for suggestions from the industry which include raising FDI limits to 74% for Headend in the Sky (HITS) and DTH operators, up from just 20% in the case of the latter, but keeping the limit for cable TV operators at 49%. Cable TV operators say they are unhappy that the TRAI has recommended that they be granted a substantially lower FDI limit that their DTH rivals, which they say will significantly limit their appeal to foreign investors.

-Restructuring of Cable TV Services -

There has been a rapid development in the Indian Cable TV industry in the past two decades which is largely due to entrepreneurial skills of the cable operators. The cable TV transmission in the country is predominantly analogue and limited to provisioning of TV Channels only.
Due to technological developments there is a fierce competition to the existing conventional Cable TV operators from operators who use advance distribution technologies like DTH, HITS, IPTV etc. With spread of convergence it is also possible to provide telecom services like broadband and Internet telephony through cable TV networks.

Restructuring of Cable TV Services

There has been a rapid development in the Indian Cable TV industry in the past two decades which is largely due to entrepreneurial skills of the cable operators. The cable TV transmission in the country is predominantly analogue and limited to provisioning of TV Channels only.
Due to technological developments there is a fierce competition to the existing conventional Cable TV operators from operators who use advance distribution technologies like DTH, HITS, IPTV etc. With spread of convergence it is also possible to provide telecom services like broadband and Internet telephony through cable TV networks.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

April 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008 -- UTV software communication unveiled its English business news channel, UTVi. The company entered into a content tie-up with Disney-ABC international television for news programming.

Industry in an Accelerated Mood

Month of March always keeps us busy. Companies care less on productivity and more on investments. It is a time of stock taking and planning for the future, both financial as well as production. May be, This is the reason that we have the major industry events held in this month. The month started with the CABSAT at Dubai followed by Convergence India in Delhi and CCBN at Beijing. CABSAT focuses on the television studios and production whereas Convergence India focuses on the telecom services and CCBN on Cable and Satellite. All of them have become “Must attend” shows for the serious professionals in the industry because we find the launch of new technologies and methodology to adopt them for our future expansion / upgradation in these shows. 
This time CABSAT showcased High Definition Television and it was IPTV and Mobile TV at the Convergence with digitalization techniques at CCBN. Overall the experience was great. Every year the number of Indian professionals visiting these shows increases indicating infusion of new energy in the industry, a healthy trend. 
There was another show FICCI Frames 2008 at Mumbai held at the fag end of the month which focused on film and television content and had best of the crowd attending it. 
So the ball has been set rolling for the new technologies in these shows. Keeping up with all this and continuing their fervor to organize the industry soonest, TRAI is also not leaving any stone unturned. They have already floated three consultation papers-for other Entities to enter Broadcasting, Revision of FDI limits in the industry and for Restructuring of Cable TV Industry. All of them are very important for us and maximum comments should be sent by us to help TRAI take every one’s view to frame practical and reasonable regulations. Also, there is an effort being made by the I&B Ministry for rationalizing of the stake holders last month. Ministry has also started discussion on rationalizing entertainment tax levied, by the states and providing ‘Right of Way’ to the operators. Both these issues are very important and committees have been formed to discuss the same. 
DTH battle is getting hotter with entry of Reliance. HITS may start rolling soon. BIS has already started the process of taking new technologies like MPEG- 4 in their STB standards. Digital cable is making calculated advances in the industry. 
Overall, it is an excellent start to the new financial year and we wish everyone the best. 

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma

Editor


Source: http://cablequest.org/articles/editorials/item/1817-industry-in-an-accelerated-mood.html

Friday, 21 March 2008

IPTV - THE NEXT BIG THING

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is rapidly becoming reality. According to California-based analyst firm Infonetics Research, revenues will soar to more than $44 billion in 2009 and 53 million households worldwide will be watching TV via broadband. IPTV will revolutionize the content delivery model. Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) are already an indication of the transformation. Consumers no longer have to view content at set times as dictated by the networks or subscribe to 120 channels in order to gain access to a few that they really wish to watch. The ability to skip through commercials spells the end for so-called prime time advertising. IPTV will change things dramatically and consumers will be able to view anything at any time in high definition (HD) quality.

HITS IN THE FIRING LINE

Last month, TRAI sent their recommendations on HITS to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Perhaps, the pace of reaching these recommendations was made the shortest, just two months and twenty days for reasons best known to TRAI. Sending these recommendations in such a hurry, making HITS as another competing technology baffles many experts in the Industry. The very purpose of HITS as its name suggests, is to act as a satellite based head-end to the Cable Operators on the ground rather than be a stand alone technology for television delivery that needs to have a level playing field with DTH, as suggested by TRAI.

HITS IN THE FIRING LINE

Last month, TRAI sent their recommendations on HITS to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Perhaps, the pace of reaching these recommendations was made the shortest, just two months and twenty days for reasons best known to TRAI. Sending these recommendations in such a hurry, making HITS as another competing technology baffles many experts in the Industry. The very purpose of HITS as its name suggests, is to act as a satellite based head-end to the Cable Operators on the ground rather than be a stand alone technology for television delivery that needs to have a level playing field with DTH, as suggested by TRAI.

DTH on ‘C-Band’

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has sent its recommendations to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on certain issues relating to Direct to Home (DTH) service last month. A consultation process was earlier initiated by the Authority by issue of a Consultation Paper on “Issues Relating to DTH” on March 2, 2007. The consultation paper covered interconnection issues, quality of service issues and other regulatory issues relating to DTH services. The Authority subsequently held an open house discussion in Bhubaneswar on May 18, 2007 on the subject. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had also sought recommendations of the Authority on Technical Interoperability of Set-top Boxes (STB) as well as to examine the possibility of allowing DTH operators to provide signals to cable operators in KU-Band. Accordingly, the Authority has communicated its recommendations as follows:

WAR CLOUDS ON THE DTH HORIZON

Last monthTata Sky, the much hyped DTH venture of Tatas and Star TV redueced their hardware price to half i.e Rs 1499 from the earlier Rs3000/- . People in the industry feel that it was a reaction to Dish TV’s restructured prices to a level of Rs 3150 to Rs 4990 for its various packages a little while ago.
Even the services are being enhanced with value additions. Dish TV has announced mobile antennas and VGA set-top-boxes for PC, whereas TataSky has announced the launch of Digital Video Recorders(DVR). In fact, battle clouds are gathering on the DTH front before just the launch of Big TV, DTH venture of Reliance. Big TV has already announced having ordered 2 million set-top-boxes and plans to provide 1000 STBs to Reliance employees all over the country for the initial seeding. In the DTH market, considering the situation on the ground where already three players are in action, this is not a mean task.

HITS IN THE FIRING LINE

Last month, TRAI sent their recommendations on HITS to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Perhaps, the pace of reaching these recommendations was made the shortest, just two months and twenty days for reasons best known to TRAI. Sending these recommendations in such a hurry, making HITS as another competing technology baffles many experts in the Industry. The very purpose of HITS as its name suggests, is to act as a satellite based head-end to the Cable Operators on the ground rather than be a stand alone technology for television delivery that needs to have a level playing field with DTH, as suggested by TRAI.

IPTV-THE NEXT BIG THING

By Col K K Sharma 
Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is rapidly becoming reality. According to California-based analyst firm Infonetics Research, revenues will soar to more than $44 billion in 2009 and 53 million households worldwide will be watching TV via broadband. IPTV will revolutionize the content delivery model. Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) are already an indication of the transformation. Consumers no longer have to view content at set times as dictated by the networks or subscribe to 120 channels in order to gain access to a few that they really wish to watch. The ability to skip through commercials spells the end for so-called prime time advertising. IPTV will change things dramatically and consumers will be able to view anything at any time in high definition (HD) quality. 

IPTV DEMANDS NEW REGULATIONS

IPTV is a product of convergence on the back plane. The same Digital Content seamlessly transcends different access Networks be it Telecom Network or Cable Network. In IPTV environ IP content in packets are delivered to different screen be it TV, PC or mobile devices with the help of a gateway / STB. Thus, we see a total convergence scenario in the back plane and the front end, which is the STB/ gateway which may be connected to any reception device. 
The regulator has to keep in mind the converging scenario and formulate a simplistic, technology agnostic regulation whereby only the content gets regulated. Thus regulations should facilitate- Technology Agnostic Approach

-IPTV-THE NEXT BIG THING-

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is rapidly becoming reality. According to California-based analyst firm Infonetics Research, revenues will soar to more than $44 billion in 2009 and 53 million households worldwide will be watching TV via broadband. IPTV will revolutionize the content delivery model. Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) are already an indication of the transformation. Consumers no longer have to view content at set times as dictated by the networks or subscribe to 120 channels in order to gain access to a few that they really wish to watch. The ability to skip through commercials spells the end for so-called prime time advertising. IPTV will change things dramatically and consumers will be able to view anything at any time in high definition (HD) quality.