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. 
TRAI held a preconsultation discussion with the stake holders last month to discuss the tariff issues in the non-CAS areas and DTH. This is an important issue which doesn’t seem to get an appropriate solution. Revenues are so meagre that the operators are unable to invest for digitalisation which is very essential for the cable industry if they have to successfully compete with DTH, HITS and IPTV. 
As far as digitalisation is concerned we are yet to decide any deadlines when the US has already finished the migration on 12th June 2009. Analog is now obsolete all over the world and we need to do some thing seriously about the migration in India because the process is time consuming. Some Cable Operators are taking their own initiative in this regards and installing digital headends and voluntary CAS like ACC has done in Guwahati, Assam. 
Delhi government is once again becoming active to clear up the mess of cables tied to the electric poles. Electric companies have been asked to make proper policy for renting poles to Cable companies in a more practical way. Unfortunately for cable operators, both Discoms namely Reliance and Tatas have DTH service as a competition to the Cable Operators and their reluctance is obvious. 
This years Broadcast Asia was a big draw for the Indian visitors and Indian companies. I thing this has some thing to do with our growing economy even in the global recession. IPTV was all over during the event in the conference as well as exhibition. 
With the death of Michael Jackson, the music prodigy, we have lost a great entertainer. The world owes the success of music videos to him. 
Get ready for IBC in September in Amsterdam. It is the best place to do global business. 

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma



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