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. 

TRAI issued the interconnection fifth amendment last month that dealt with carriage fee. It has recommended to split the definition of 'carriage fee' into 'Placement fee' and 'Carriage' fee which has not gone well with the cable operators who feel that when there is no check on pay channel rates and government has not implemented the addressability in cable networks, why should there be checks on the way carriage is charged by them from broadcasters for carrying their channels in the already crowded analog networks. It does not give them a level playing field against other stake holders. DTH operators charge a high carriage fee and there are no regulations for them.
TRAI has also issued a consultation paper on Tariff and Value-Added-Services in the DTH industry. Quality of Service (QoS) Regulations for DTH and Guidelines for internet broadband have been released. Unfortunately, two of the most important persons of TRAI, the Chairperson Nripendra Misra and Principal Adviser R N Chaubey have left last month. Sh. S K Gupta, Advisor, is also leaving next month. This is going to leave a big vacuum in TRAI and I don't think these chairs will be filled before the elections. That means a six months delay in all the forthcoming regulations till the next government is in place. 
The 17th convergence India 2009 was a big draw this time. Broadcasting sector has again shown their faith in the event as the annual meeting ground for the industry. 
Last month we saw the launch of six channels, three by NE TV group, namely Hamar (Bhojpuri), Focus (Women) and HY (South Indian GEC), P-7 news from Pearl Broadcasting, Raj Musix and WB (Eng GEC) from Time Warner. Who says we are under going financial crises? 

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma



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