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. 

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma




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