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.
This is creating differences among the stake holders and making the industry suffer. Sadly, by the time the government takes some action, the technology would have gone further ahead and the present recommendations would become outdated, necessitating a new process of consultation. When elections are on its head (in 2009), I don’t think the government will have the courage to bring out any new regulation till then.
Now carriage fee has taken the centre stage in the process of regulation of the industry. The issue is affecting all the Cable TV networks, DTH platforms, IPTV platforms and of course the broadcasters who project themselves as the victims.
TRAI has also issued a consultation paper on cross media holdings last month. Stakeholders have to give their comments in this month but again, I don’t expect anything to happen on this in the next few years. 
IBC event was held in Amsterdam last month. This time the main focus was on IPTV which is emerging as the next big platform that will globalise the content distribution business yet maintaining the individuality of each market.
Animation industry in India has come of age. With all international tie-ups and outsourcing to India, our animators are going worldwide breaking the barriers of culture and language. 
The exhibition season has set in. MIP TV in France and Broadcast India in Mumbai are the next events not to be missed.
On behalf of Cable Quest team I wish everyone a very Happy Id & Diwali.

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma



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