Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Happy Days are here again

The year end has heralded the return of better days in the industry and 2010 should prove to be an excellent year for all of us. DEN's first attempt at listing in the stock exchanges went off well with oversubscription. Now Dish TV is adding funds in its kitty with a $ 100 million GDR for a massive expansion. 
HITS has finally been approved and Wire and Wireless, The Essel Group Broadband cable company has intensified its campaign enrolling cable operators for its service all over the country. It is the first major step for cable networks to migrate to digital but since DTH and IPTV are already spreading their digital tentacles all over, it would have been better for the industry as well as the government if a level playing field was created for the Cable Operators too by declaring CAS implementation all over the nation. Apart from digitizing the cable industry, it would have speeded up the broadband penetration too. We talked to Sudhir Agarwal, CEO WWIL to know the salient features of this technology and its advantages in helping cable operators digitize their networks. 
This month, we are focusing on imparting education through electronic media including Television, Radio, Broadband, IPTV, Mobile communications etc. All these technologies have helped empower the common man with knowledge and information to become a part of the global economy. It is this very aspect, which has helped us wither-out the financial crisis engulfing the entire world. We must thank thousands of small cable operators who ushered in the information revolution in India much before even mobile communications and Internet had set their feet. 
We interviewed Sunil Khanna who initiated India's first education TV channel from a private player 'Topper' for our lead story. He is one senior executive who completely belongs to this industry having started his career with Siti Cable in its formative years, managed a DTH company and then launched his own channel and now extending it's reach using the new media technologies. 
Haryana Government has shaken up the Cable TV industry in the state by proposing to auction the municipal areas for Cable TV operation. Existing MSOs and Cable Operators are protesting this move which will endanger their livelihood and have approached I&B Ministry for a remedial action since the ministry controls the business of Cable TV and broadcasting. We cover the story in detail in this issue. 
There is a lot of noise in the I&B Ministry on content regulations but nothing concrete seems to be happening. Inspite of numerous notices and advisories to the TV channels, there is no change in their attitude. The Government warned them against depiction of blood and gore and other graphic details of the 26/11 operation on its first anniversary but ignoring these guidelines, channels showed much more than even the broadcasts of the actual incident a year ago.

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma

Editor


Sunday, 1 November 2009

New Media Changing the Infotainment Scene

This Diwali has been nice for the markets as economic progress continues. Industrial production has gone up by 10.4% giving hopes of better GDP (above 6%) by the year end. Stock markets have performed very well, beyond expectations, jumping from 7,000 mark to 17,000 in one year... all speaks well of the coming times.
The IDNS summit held in New Delhi brought out excellent results for the broadcasting industry. Particularly, the DTH sector which has added more than a million subscribers in the last month, making its subscriber base cross a figure of 16 million. But as per the projections, the cable TV sector is also expected to do well with a lot of public as well as foreign money being pumped into the major MSOs through IPOs and FDIs and plans to cover more cities with digital cable before the Commonwealth games kick off. 

November 2009


Sunday, November 1, 2009 -- Toonz Animation celebrates its 10th anniversary in Thiruvanatapuram.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Interactive TV Transforming Home Entertainment

Not long ago TV was an indispensable household item and viewers spent hours glued to their TV as ‘couch potatoes’. Thus limiting their TV viewing experience to mere ‘channel surfing’. In just a few years time the viewing scenario has changed dramatically. Convergence technology converts one-way passive TV viewing into a two-way interactive experience which means the TV has become intelligent. Interactive TV technology enables television viewers to access remote servers and the Internet through their television and the digital set top box (STB). For their part viewers today have demands. They want to watch content from traditional broadcast TV as well as video-on-demand or the Internet. And they want to watch it at home or on the go. Their favored delivery device may still be a TV set or it may be a PC, a portable media player (PMP) or a mobile device. They also want to be able to transfer content between devices and locations. Interactive TV is becoming the new order of media because it combines the communicative power of TV with the connectivity of the Internet. The result is that it enables information flow not only from broadcaster to viewer, but from viewer to broadcaster.

Interactive TV Transforming Home Entertainment

Not long ago TV was an indispensable household item and viewers spent hours glued to their TV as ‘couch potatoes’. Thus limiting their TV viewing experience to mere ‘channel surfing’. In just a few years time the viewing scenario has changed dramatically. Convergence technology converts one-way passive TV viewing into a two-way interactive experience which means the TV has become intelligent. Interactive TV technology enables television viewers to access remote servers and the Internet through their television and the digital set top box (STB). For their part viewers today have demands. They want to watch content from traditional broadcast TV as well as video-on-demand or the Internet. And they want to watch it at home or on the go. Their favored delivery device may still be a TV set or it may be a PC, a portable media player (PMP) or a mobile device. They also want to be able to transfer content between devices and locations. Interactive TV is becoming the new order of media because it combines the communicative power of TV with the connectivity of the Internet. The result is that it enables information flow not only from broadcaster to viewer, but from viewer to broadcaster.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Indian Animation going International

Hello friends, 
India had a fairly unplanned monsoon, with roads clogged and traffic jams, all reached their workplaces cribbing and complaining. But, work is to be done and on time. So as promised, we are back with another edition of Cable Quest carrying new information of who's who of the industry, product launch and interesting write ups. 

October 2009

29/10/09 -- Pakistan bans BBC broadcast on private FM channels

Monday, 21 September 2009

Trend-O-Meter

TV Serials and reality shows return with a complete make over. Why? Explains Cable Quest.
Television in the recent years has emerged as the biggest Infotainer. It comes with a complete package carrying information along with entertainment .Programmes telecast on the number of general entertainment channels (GEC) clearly project the paradigm shift in the viewers choice. ‘Saas bahu’ sagas loosing the TRP made senior executives of some of the popular GEC’s to conduct a research. The fiction as well as non fiction content had enough potential to tap. The channels innovated with the plots. The entire gamut of serials on various channels have female protagonist but in a different ‘avatar’.

Content Matters… a Nostalgia

Roop Sharma brings to the readers how the urgently required content code bill lies pending in the government files. With deteriorating content of the entire gamut of TV programmes, why the government is oblivious of the Indian sensibilities? 
Whenever a serial or a reality show breaks the morality norm, the country and the Gover-nment jump to action. Show cause notices to the channels and apology scrolls run by them seem a mere eyewash. 'Sach ka Saamna', is not the first show that has generated controversy and invited public wrath. I can't even imagine a single day when parents and kids watch a TV show together. Not only shows but the advertisements are also insensitive and sensationalizing. The decency is completely missing today. 

Sunday, 20 September 2009

BROADBAND

Migrating to All-Digital
Pa rt-I
Over the past few years, the cable industry has been adding digitally modulated signals to the downstream spectrum to accommodate high-speed data, digital video, video-on-demand (VOD) and voice. A few operators have done something called digital simulcast, where most or all of the analog TV channels are duplicated in the digital lineup. The latter allows subs to receive all services with a single digital set-top box.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Content Worries

Recession is fading and a lot needs to be done. The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh's speech on the Independence Day brings hope. Despite droughts in many parts of the country he assured the country men that the government was taking adequate measures to make the economy better. Lets see... 
To talk of the industry, the Television content in India is in flux. Previously one single channel enjoyed the monopoly as the channel’s popularity relied on a programme’s popularity. But, now things have changed. Viewers have a lot to choose from. The loyalty is programme based rather than channel based. Presently four to five GEC channels are vying for the top slot but, their position changes weekly, depending on each episode of the popular programme. Reality TV is in vogue these days. Be it talent shows, comedy shows or entertainment. Some shows are indigenous while others have borrowed from western concepts. 

September 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 -- TRAI further extended the date for submission of information by the stakeholders for tariff issues for Cable TV services in Non-CAS area till 22 September' 09.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Reliability and QoS in CATV Industry

With the digital technology becoming cheaper and fast developments in the telecom and broadcast field, the cable television industry in India is undergoing a vital change, from a disorganised mom and pop service to a much organised affair on a large scale. Surprisingly it is not the new comers who are initiating the changes, instead it is the same unorganised units who started this industry, who are fast upgrading their networks keeping in mind the future requirements. 
CAS or conditional access regulation has been the biggest prime mover for this second revolution in the cable TV industry. All the big MSOs are transforming their analog networks to digital with the result that their franchisees have to maintain the same standards to provide better services to their subscribers. Even the independent cable operators are installing digital headends and consolidating the neighbourhood networks with HFC networking. Fiber is also being used extensively by the rural area operators to cover long distance. 

Waiting for Godot

Roop Sharma enlightens the readers on the continued exploitation of the cable industry. The industry still awaits its due. 
Holy war of cable operators continues, but, on some false promises and never die optimism. The present attitude of TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), tilts towards four large broadcasters, who own more than eighty channels. Both the broadcasters and TRAI are taking 60,000 cable operators and 80 Million consumers for a ride. 

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Noises in a CATV Reverse Path

The Signal Level Meter is probably the single most essential piece of instrumentation required for a CATV network monitoring, be it Analogue or Digital. With the introduction on CAS and HITS in the Indian market the demand for Analog-cum-QAM cable meters is growing fast. Such a meter is used for both installation of new head-ends in a network as well as for fault finding and routine maintenance of the already laid wire web. A signal level meter is used to measure and ensure that signal levels are delivered as required and as cost effectively. The distortion performance of an Amplifier is closely related to the output signal level. The amplifier distortion increases roughly by 2 dB for every 1 dB increase in the output level. Hence it becomes very crucial to adjust amplifier levels appropriately down the cable line up to the last mile. This can be achieved using a signal level meter that is accurate and has been calibrated at regular intervals. As a bare minimum requirement, an SLM would measure Video level, Audio level & C/N for an analogue relay: BER and MER for a digital relay and Tilt for gain-slope adjustment. On the higher end, however, an advanced SLM with features such as spectrum and constellation can make the task of identifying types of noise and its cause much simpler and quicker. 

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Are We Serious About Digitalisation?

Our government is a paradox. On one hand it plans to spend crores of Rupees on WiMax technology to enable the rural areas to use broadband and on the other hand it propagates BSNL, the failing public sector giant. Also encouraging alternate technologies like DTH and HITS in the name of digitization of the broadcast and cable industry to achieve faster results. 
This, to me is a myopic way of thinking. The seriousness of the government regarding digitalization seems half hearted. Recent budget came with a thunder but, brought no monsoon. This special issue endeavors to bring forth all the information regarding digitalization, problems faced by the industry and the solutions. We also carry special articles to update the readers with GST, Wireless technologies like WiMax and Satellite for broadband services and their inability to meet future demands of bandwidth. The world is thinking of providing gigabits to each home and we are just stuck on 256 kbps. Fiber and co-ax can get the job done and we have enough in the cable TV networks. Telco get tax sops and subsidies to provide IPTV and broadband services. But what is the outcome? Do we actually want to digitalise Cable TV? We have witnessed countries like Korea, Japan and US using broadband to empower the people with information and knowledge. Its Economic benefits can not be undermined. But we need to channelise our efforts in the right direction. 

August 2009

Saturday, August 1, 2009 -- Ghaziabad Commissioner served notice to 159 Cable Operators to deposit licence fee.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Value Addition Through Superior Subscriber Management and Billing

Today’s Pay TV provider requires tremendous flexibility with the right amount of control in order to stay competitive and deliver value to customers. Using the right Subscriber Management and Billing solution is crucial in order to achieve this. Duo Software has deployed Subscriber Management Solutions (SMS) that deliver these critical factors to leading Pay TV providers. Some of the key factors in Duo Software’s solution that have made it a high value product that has contributed to Pay TV providers’ success are discussed below:

Value Addition Through Superior Subscriber Management and Billing

Today’s Pay TV provider requires tremendous flexibility with the right amount of control in order to stay competitive and deliver value to customers. Using the right Subscriber Management and Billing solution is crucial in order to achieve this. Duo Software has deployed Subscriber Management Solutions (SMS) that deliver these critical factors to leading Pay TV providers. Some of the key factors in Duo Software’s solution that have made it a high value product that has contributed to Pay TV providers’ success are discussed below:

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

A Good Start by Ambika Soni

Last month the I&B Minister cleared the registration of 22 Channels, mostly regional which was quite contrary to my earlier feeling that since the Minister as well as the secretary are new, they will take three to four months to become effective. This is a good sign that Ms. Ambika Soni is all geared up to act fast and efficient. She has already held meetings with broadcasters, NBA, MSOs and Cable Operators and understood their problems and expectations. She has also shown her inclination to form, content regulations for the TV Channels as were suggested after the 26/11 terrorist attack. The Ministry has also issued advisories to some channels including TV-5 of France for violating the programme code. Also, this is the first time the I&B Minister has seriously dealt with the taxation issue and other budget sops to the industry and discussed the matter with the Finance Minister before the budget session this month. Hope there is a positive result of this exercise. Industry’s demands from Cable Operators, MSOs, DTH operators and Broadcasters are listed in this issue. 

July 2009


Friday, July 03, 2009 -- The direct-to-home service provider Big TV launched its portfolio tracking service 'iStock' in association with Reliance Money.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

INDIA SET TO RECORD LARGE INCREASE IN DVR OWNERSHIP

As the cost of Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) continues to fall, DVRs are now becoming a “must have” item in many homes. DVR technology enables viewers to record live TV, play back, pause and rewind live broadcasts and store many hours of programming. A recent global research study showed that the owners of DVRs overwhelmingly agreed that their enjoyment of watching TV was significantly enhanced by having a DVR and that it was the second most important household item, after the mobile phone.
In the UK and Ireland, the bundled Sky+ DVR service is now in over 5 million homes, which means that it is in every second Sky home! In Australia, 2 out of 3 set top boxes (STBs) deployed are DVR enabled and in the US, most operators now provide DVRs as a standard feature. The largest operators around the world admit that the DVR and HD services are the main factors for increased ARPU and subscriber churn reduction even during the recession. 

MIGRATING TO THE FUTURE

Alex Borland, Sales Director at Latens, describes the crucial things that you have to get right, while upgrading your network for the Next Gen services.
It's hard to over-estimate the influence that the growth of broadband internet connections is having on broadcasting. 

Digital Rights Management

Prevention of misuse and theft of content has become all the more important in the Digital Environment.
Digital rights management (DRM) is a generic term that refers to access control technologies that can be used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals to try to impose limitations on the usage of digital content and devices. The term is used to describe any technology which makes the unauthorized use of such digital content and devices technically formidable, but generally doesn't include other forms of copy protection which can be circumvented without modifying the file or device, such as serial numbers or keyfiles. It can also refer to the restrictions associated with specific instances of digital works or devices.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Better Times Ahead

The dance of democracy that began a few months ago ended with a good note. The UPA government is again given the mandate to form the next government. With Manmohan Singh been sworn as the Prime Minister, we have the hope of continuing with the progressive policies of the UPA government pursued for the next five years too. We also expect that the decisions taken so far in many fields will not be reversed like it happens at such times when a different political party comes to power. General atmosphere in the country is that of a stable government with progressive policies creating a better economic environment much needed for the growth of any business. A sudden spurt in the Stock Market indices is a clear signal of this.
Coming to the field of broadcasting, we can expect some changes with a new minister, new secretary, new TRAI chairman and new broadcast advisor in the TRAI. I sincerely hope with Commonwealth Games approaching fast and the rest of the world moving towards a digital environment, the pending decisions in this respect are given a push so that we start the implementation soon. Digitalisation of Cable networks is a time consuming thing as it requires investments, technology implementation and above all, acceptance of the technology by the masses. By this I mean acceptance of addressability and conditional access which are the integral part of the digital cable.

June 2009

Monday, June 01, 2009 -- Big TV, the DTH service of Reliance ADA group expand its channel bouquet with an addition of 10 new channels.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Self Regulation at Risk

The process of Self Regulations initiated by the News Broad-casters Association received its first jolt last month when the News Broadcasting Standards Disputes Redressal Authority (NBSDRA) set up by the Association held that the Independent News Services (which broadcasts the India TV news channel) had violated the guidelines and asked it to pay a fine of Rs.1lakh and run an apology on its channel. The case pertained to a report carried by India TV on the statements made by a US resident, Farhana Ali, which the Authority decided was a misrepresentation of facts.
This was the first order passed by the Authority since its formation last October but instead of creating a sense of confidence amongst the stake holders, it has created a controversy that has put the whole process of self regulation in jeopardy. Instead of accepting the verdict, India TV has decided to quit NBA after lodging a protest over the manner in which the Authority decided to penalise it. It has alleged that it was not given a fair hearing, and till now there is no response from either NBA or the Authority.

THIS WAS COMING

Spate of fights and killings among the cable operators in the last few months indicate a dark chapter opening once again
in the history of cable television. Hope the Government does something before it goes out of control.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

STB MARKET TRENDS IN INDIA

A couple of years back, STBs were associated with CAS under a tough regulatory regime imposed by the government. Doordarshan started Free to Air service (DD Direct,) which made TV penetrations among remote villages a dream come true. The picture quality, however, distributed over analog cable network has been sub-par. Today, however, STB is increasingly seen as a technology easily deployed in living rooms. It is fuelling consumer appetite for ‘high-quality’ digital picture displayed on big screen TVs including fast growing LCD TV segment. Already, there are five DTH operators and the 6th one is about to launch service, along side of a host of cable operators.

When is a Signal Good Enough?

While measuring television signal in Cable, Satellite or terrestrial, many complicated factors and parameters coome in play. However, if the measuring instrument is efficient and good, it relieves the engineer of remembering all the parameters and taking them in consideration while judging a signal quality. It simply
We are get asked the question, what typical readings shall I have to judge if my signal is good or not? Is it 40 dB/uv ? SNR of 15 dB ? MER of 14 dB or preBER of 1 x E-6 ? Well the answer is NONE. There is no universal way to say a typical value is good enough.

Friday, 1 May 2009

DTH on Upswing

Television was never so busy as in these days when the two most eyeball grabbing events are going on; IPL the Cricket’s favorite event in South Africa and the drama of General Elections. All other TRP grabbing entertainment programmes have been pushed to the backyard. Every news channel has come out with a different kind of election entertainment. Frankly Speaking, it is no news, it is a grand big 'Mela' on television and we find everyone including the anchors, political leaders the crowds and the viewers are enjoying it to the hilt.
The Election Commission had to issue so many new directions and advisories to control the over enthusiasm of the news channels. 

May 2009

Monday, May 04, 2009 -- The Supreme Court directed TRAI to go ahead with its consultations related to the fixing of tariff for DTH services.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Non-Discriminatory Access To Content

TRAI’s New Interconnection Regulations for Broadcasting Sector
TRAI released the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Fifth Amendment) Regulations, on 17 March 2009, which essentially cover regulatory provisions on non-discriminatory access to content, issues relating to interconnection for addressable platforms and issues relating to registration of interconnection agreements. 

DTH Rates to be Regulated

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India released on 6 March 2009 a consultation paper on DTH issues relating to Tariff Regulation and issues relating to Value added Services (such as Movie-On-Demand, Pay-per-View), Platform services (such as Active Learning, Active Stories etc.) and carrying of Radio channels on DTH platform. 
The Direct-to-Home (DTH) TV services in India started gaining momentum from 2006 onwards. With the entry of new DTH service providers, there has been a rapid growth in the number of subscribers using DTH services. At present there are five pay DTH service providers who have commenced their services. Today, there are more than ten million subscribers of DTH services. 

Monday, 20 April 2009

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Better Hopes for Entertainment Industry

The financial year has ended and along with this have ended many speculations, hopes and expectations that arose with it. Financially 2008-09 has not ended well for most industries, marred by the global financial meltdown. However, entertainment industry, particularly broadcasting has been less affected by the recession compared to other industries. The industry has grown by about 12.4% over the previous year and this year the situation has already shown signs of recovery.
Although TRAI has worked very hard, it's recommendations are not finding much favours with the government. Out of 13 recommendations to the industry only the one on IPTV could get through. CATV industry in particular, is feeling the brunt of this slow decision making and has been left to fend for itself in its own way. 

April 2009


Wednesday, April 01, 2009 -- TRAI released quarterly performance indicators of Indian Telecom Services for the quarter ending December 2008.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Quality of Service Regulations for Cable TV

on 24 Feb, 2009 The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has issued the Standards of Quality of Service (Broadcasting and Cable Services) (Cable Television – Non-CAS Areas) Regulations, 2009. These regulations will empower the consumers for receiving quality service from the cable TV service providers in non-CAS areas. These regulations will take effect from April 1st, 2009, which will give sometime to the service providers to take necessary steps to comply with these regulations. 
There are more than 80 million consumers receiving cable TV services in non-CAS areas, being served by about 60,000 cable operators. No formal regulations for quality of service (QoS) were issued so far in view of the highly fragmented nature of cable TV sector and because of implementational difficulties at ground level. Subsequently, TRAI has issued Quality of Service Regulations for cable services for CAS notified Areas in 2006. The DTH subscribers are also benefited by the Quality of Service Regulations for DTH Services issued by TRAI in 2007.

VALUE ADDED SERVICES

Consumer benefit and competitive rates in the objective of TRAI's recommendations on Value Added Services to the government.
on 13 Feb 09 TRAI released Recommendations on Growth of Value Added Services and Regulatory Issues. The value added service (VAS) market in India has a great potential for growth and the revenue is expected to reach above INR 250 billion by the year 2009-10 and more than 30% of the revenue of the telecom access service providers in the next 5-7 years. 

Friday, 20 March 2009

Simplifying Digital Cable Deployment

How can you simplify digital cable deployment without breaking the bank? Leaving aside the fact that some of our banks seem to be broken already, few would deny that digital cable has been slow to develop in India, as while the market is incredibly dynamic it is also fragmented. This often requires a highly complex planning process when it comes to rollout. “Not only does India have a huge number of cable systems ranging from large MSOs to many local operators, but it also has to face the major obstacle of signal piracy,” says Jeremy Thorp, CEO at Latens, the UK-based software Conditional Access System (CAS) and middleware vendor for digital Pay TV. Then there’s the challenging prospect of competing head-to-head with the nation's new fleet of satellite TV providers with a service that offers better quality of viewing, and most importantly at an attractive price. In addition, the Indian government has recently mandated the adoption of a CAS (Conditional Access System) for cable operators, which many end users and operators believe may considerably raise the cost of pay TV service delivery. With such a downward pressure on finances, it’s not altogether surprising to see the emergence of budget revenue protection systems that seem to be almost too good to be true. But as ever, you get what you pay for, Thorp warns.

The First 3G Technology

The first radiotelephone service was introduced in the US at the end of the 1940s, and was meant to connect mobile users in cars to the public fixed network. In the 1960s, a new system launched by Bell Systems, called Improved Mobile Telephone Service” (IMTS), brought many improvements like direct dialing and higher bandwidth.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

March 2009


Wednesday, March 2, 2009 -- TRAI issued guidelines to all service providers providing internet /broadband to ensure better service to their subscriber.

Friday, 20 February 2009

SOFTWARE CAS VALUE FOR MONEY

An exclusive session with Jeremy Thorp, CEO of Latens Systems providers of software only Conditional Access and Middleware, Here he talks about the advantages of a cardless CAS in the Indian scenario.

Bharti Airtel Launches

TRIPLE PLAY
Atul Bindal, President, Bharti Airtel and N Arjun, Executive Director, Bharti Airtel
Bharti Airtel announced the debut of its Triple Play Service with the launch of Airtel digital TV interactive, it's Internet Protocol Television Service. With this, Airtel delivers the Triple Play Advantage of Telephony, Broadband and Entertainment Service to its customers. The Triple Play Service will be initially available to customers in Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida starting January 19, 2009. 

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Financial Hardship is Finally Here

Hardly had the shocks of Mumbai terror attacks subsided that all news broadcasters came under severe criticism from the government and the intelligentsia for their irresponsible and dramatized broadcast of the war-like incident. As a result the government decided to amend The Cable Television Act introducing changes in the Content Code as well as issuing new guidelines for media coverage of such emergencies and wars.
Not taking it lightly, the much influential gang of News Broadcasters lobbied with the politicians and approached the PM to get the move held in a abeyance till all stake holders were again consulted. God knows how long these consultations with the stake-holders go on because I have been seeing such moves since 1997 when the first draft of Broadcast Bill was presented in the Parliament. Just thirty odd broadcasters amongst 200 news channels who are members of the News Broadcasters Association are taking the whole system for a ride. This can happen only in a democracy like India. Now the elections are coming and we can forget about any further move from the government to rein in the broadcasters. 
Effect of the global recession has been aggravated after the Mumbai attacks. The ‘Raju Scam’ of Satyam has further brought down the sentiments in the industry. Now it has been predicted that this bad phase may continue for at least another year. Fortunately the whole world accepts that India and China will not be much effected by this meltdown. Both the economics are strong internally and do not depend so much on the US. So, we do not expect any let down in foreign investments. 
DTH is one sector which has felt the heat of this financial crises most. DTH operators depend totally on imported set top-boxes and rising prices are making a big dent in their revenues. If CAS was implemented in India in 2003 when the law was enacted, we would have at least had twenty major STB manufactures in the country by now. But our political system is not so strong as to resist the powerful lobbies of the broadcasters. They have even managed to get TRAI's tariff order for Non-CAS areas withdrawn by TDSAT. Anyway, the DTH players have deep pockets and so can continue to provide free or subsidised set-top-boxes. 
There is no stoppage of channel launches, recession or no recession. We saw the launch of Jan Sandesh, Real Television, Sadhana News Bihar and SpaceToon last month. Some more are lined up for this month too. 

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma

Editor


Source: http://cablequest.org/articles/editorials/item/1807-financial-hardship-is-finally-here.html

February 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009 -- Nimbus Sports bagged the worldwide broadcasting and sponsorship right for the Indo-SriLanka Cricket series.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Triple Play on CATV

Lt. Col. (Retd.) K.K. Sharma
Existing cable TV networks are a great asset to the nation providing a last mile broadband connectivity to 80 million households. The co-axial based last mile has the largest bandwidth carrying capability; more than 4 Gbps, next only to fiber optic cables. None of the other technologies like DSL, WiMax or Satellite can provide this capability.

Government in Quandary

Hardly had the Information and Broadcasting ministry obtained the Law Ministry's clearance for a draft notification amending the cable television network rules 1994 that the news broadcasters created a hue and cry in their own media as well as in political circles on being gagged or throttled that the PM had to intervene and assure that changes in the Cable TV Rules and the Cable Television (Regulations) Act 1995 would be taken up only after ‘widest possible consultation’ with all stake-holders. This is not the first time that the PM had to intervene in a matter concerning regulations for the broadcasters. In August 2007 also the PMO had intervened to slow down the Draft Broadcast Bill until all stakeholders agreed on the need for any further regulations on TV and Radio. 

Safeguarding Consumer Interest : TRAI

TRAI takes further steps for protection of consumer interests and initiates consultation for Quality of Service aspects for non-CAS cable TV service and DTH services. In an effort to ensure quality services to subscribers residing in non-CAS areas as well as those subscribing to DTH services TRAI issued a consultation paper last year, on 1st December 2008.
The Authority had, earlier in 2004 indicated regarding the code and guidelines for Quality of Service for cable TV services but to no avail. No formal regulations were issued in view of highly fragmented nature of cable TV sector, because of implementation difficulties at ground level. Subsequently, TRAI issued Quality of Service Regulations for cable services for CAS notified Areas in 2006 and in 2007 where in the DTH subscribers too benefited. 

TARIFF HIKE FOR CABLE TV SERVICES

Aimed at providing inflation-linked adjustments in tariff ceilings, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on 26th Dec' 08 announced a seven per cent increase for cable TV services in CAS and non-CAS (conditional access system) areas and a reduction in the security deposit and monthly rental for set-top boxes in CAS areas.
With a seven per cent rise, the ceiling of MRP of pay channel has been increased to Rs. 5.35 per pay channel per month at the subscriber end (excluding taxes), and the basic service tier may cost up to Rs. 82 a month to the consumer (excluding taxes). At the existing tariff, the ceiling was at Rs. 5 (excluding taxes) per pay channel and Rs. 77 (excluding taxes) per month for the basic service tier consisting of a minimum 30 free to-air channels in the CAS notified areas.

REGULATORY FRAMEWORK FOR BROADCASTING IN INDIA

Ministry of Information & Broadcasting 
 Policy, Licensing of broadcasting sector, Content regulations, spectrum allocation.

TRAI Releases Consultation Paper On Interconnection

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has on 15 December 2008 released a consultation paper on interconnection issues relating to Broadcasting & Cable Services. 
TRAI had issued the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection Regulation on 10th December, 2004 and The Register of Interconnect Agreements (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Regulation was issued on 31st December, 2004. These Regulations have been amended from time to time to cover some new issues. However, the broadcasting & cable services sector is evolving at a fast pace. There has been a marked increase in deployment of addressable platforms for distribution of TV channels in recent past. IPTV services and Voluntary CAS have been rolled out by many service providers. In near future, head-end in the sky (HITS) and mobile TV services are also likely to be available. The number of subscribers being served by the DTH services has also gone up significantly.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Adios 2008

Another year passes by! The financial crisis at the fag end of the year brought the cheers down for the industry which for the whole year demonstrated a very upbeat and vibrant mood. Financial crisis have affected the industry causing reduction in advertising revenues and not the subscription revenues which are still going northward. Subscriptions have increased both, in DTH as well as Cable TV. Cable Industry is also feeling the heat due to reduced carriage fee paid by the broadcasters. All imported equipment has become costly. DTH operators are paying more for the STBs and increasing subsidies to the subscribers to meet the competition, piling up more losses. But a silver lining in the dark clouds is that demand is still increasing everyday. Getting one million subscribers a month is not a joke.

January 2009

Friday, January 02, 2009 -- Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira demanded a CBI inquiry into the capture of cable network business in Punjab by SAD supporters.