Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Who will bell the cat?

There is a dire need of a Content Code in the country but who will implement this? 
Once again the I&B Ministry is crying for regulation of content in the television broadcasting. It all started with a man committing suicide after being humiliated by the host of controversial reality TV show Rakhi Ka Insaaf and numerous complaints against Bigg Boss-Season 4 where the participants have been accused of using indecent language and gestures and also one of the participant has been shouting and quarreling with other participants. The Ministry had clamped down on the channels and told them to telecast these shows between 11 pm and 5 am “with immediate effect”, the timing meant for broadcasting adult content. 

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Month of Scams

Last month kept us all busy tracking various scams. No sector is left wanting as far as scams are concerned. It all started with the 2G Scam of the Telecom Ministry. Commonwealth Games scams are also slowly being unearthed. Prasar Bharti's HD Broadcast scam with the alleged involvement of its CEO B S Lalli has put the PMO and the I&B Ministry at loggerheads. Now the telephone tapping of Ms Radia's conversations are making many skeletons tumble out of the closet. Mr Rattan Tata whose conversation was also tapped has gone to the Supreme Court to protect his privacy. Two senior journalists Barkha Dutt and Veer Sanghvi have also been accused of helping the telecom deals who are now on a spate of giving explanations in every which way. Parliament is already on a boil due to these scams. Various land scams like the one involving the Karnataka CM and the other of the Adarsh Society of Mumbai involving the Maharashtra politicians are putting the whole country to shame. And to top it all now we have the accusation that the Telecom Minister gave WiMax license to two companies who never existed. The whole scenario is so polluted that one wonders if any thing is going right these days. 
Even on the international front USA is facing the wrath of rest of the World for the WikiLeaks. In all this scandalous time role of Media is being questioned. Debates are on about what is important, private interest or the public interest. Are our journalists following the ethics? TV channels are having a whale of a time disclosing every scam in a dramatic exclusive exposure. One wonders if there is anything called self regulation which the TV broadcasters have been shouting hoarse whenever the government comes on them with a heavy hand. Indian television media has become so diversified, big and powerful that it is almost impossible for the government to control it. Sad part is that the consumers who make this gigantic industry survive are the biggest sufferers. For the sake of TRPs broadcasters pass on all sorts of trash to the consumers stating that the consumers demand all this. It again puts the focus on doubtful TRP system but the government is so weak in front of these power houses that it just keeps mum. Recent case of Bigg Boss, Rakhi Ka Insaf and SS Music channel are the glaring examples of the spineless government that we have that its stern action against such undesired content does not stand the test of the law in the courts. This also indicates our half hearted regulations. The above attitude is also reflected in government's efforts in digitising the Cable Television industry where umpteen number of times the sun-set dates have been recommended by many committees but no notification from the government is coming out. One wonders if the government is clean in its intentions or again some conspiracy is being hatched, to let the cable TV industry down in its competition with DTH and the IPTV . 
Notwithstanding the above, the industry is bent upon going forward with digitisation on its own and the year to come may prove a turning point. 

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma


Source: http://cablequest.org/articles/editorials/item/1786-month-of-scams.html

Monday, 1 November 2010

Digitalisation in Focus Again

The CW Games are over and everything went off very well. During those twelve days people forgot about corruption, falling bridges and snakes in the village. All they saw was grand opening and closing ceremonies and an excellent performance by our sports persons bringing home a never expected 101 medals tally, not to talk of some world records and many national records being broken. Even the live HD broadcast, done for the first time in India was lauded by the international community. It is another thing that hardly anyone saw the Games in HD in our own country. It would have been a great experience, if government had taken some steps to promote it about six months ago. Now is the time to open the cupboards and reveal the skeletons. Prasar Bharti is already in the news having favoured SIS Live in many ways in their contract for the HD broadcasts. Many heads may roll now although Mr BS Lalli, CEO of Prasar Bharti has refuted all charges and stated that due permission was taken from the Ministry for all contractual terms.

November 2010

2/11/10 -- Global content security solution provider Conax has entered into a contract with Fastway Transmission, partially owned by the Reliance Group.

Friday, 1 October 2010

May the Commonwealth Games be a Success

It is sad that Commonwealth Games which could have been the pride of the nation have become a national shame, what with blame of corruption, bad construction, delayed projects, falling bridges and snakes in the rooms. But one important aspect is that we are getting all the news from the news channels and the print media. As usual, is the media creating a negative hype to gain TRPs? The media has no big news these days other than the CW Games. Even some foreign participants have also commented that in every such big event, glitches exist but they are never hyped so much by the media as being done here. 
So far not much has been commented by the media on the broadcasting front. I wish some of the channels had done an in-depth study of the systems in place, particularly when it is the first time that live HD broadcasts will be made by India. Even the ministry does not speak about the event much perhaps, they are aware that hardly anyone in India will see the HD broadcasts. There are very few HD TV households and high cost of the HD STBs prohibit DTH and cable operators to distribute these to the subscribers. I wish the government could have done some thing in this regards to make the Games memorable for the Indian masses too. 

October 2010

1/10/10 -- Fashion TV's FTV HD has selected RRsat Global Communications Network for providing uplink, playout and connectivity services.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Are we on the right track?

Security problem in using Blackberry mobiles is in the news these days. It was surprising that after so many years of its existence in the country, the Government is now wondering ‘who let the Blackberry in’ to do business in India. 
But for our country perhaps, there is nothing surprising in it. Foreign TV Channels entered the country way back in 1992 and it was only in 2006, when we woke-up and registered them to do business in India so that they comply with the Indian laws and the government can have a share in their revenues generated from the country. Similarly, ‘pay’ channels entered in 1994 and only in 2004 we thought of regulating them by using CAS so that there is accountability of revenue collected from the consumers. Its implementation has been held up till date because consumers are our last priority. We are still wondering how to do it without annoying the mighty broadcasters who would lose most of their revenue once system becomes transparent. 

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Wish Commonwealth Games, all the best

Only one month is left for the Commonwealth Games to start and we are still wondering if we can do it. Rains in August had demoralized everyone including the government, host broadcaster Doordarshan, Delhi Government and the UPA Government at the centre. Many emergency measures have been taken and the PM himself has intervened to ensure all goes well. Venues and their surrounding areas are still not ready and the host broadcaster as well as the international production team from SIS of UK is yet to take possession of their stands and do practice for the live HD broadcasts which is being done for the first time in the country. Also, this will be the first time the CW Games will be live broadcast in HD (High Definition). We give our readers a detailed preview of the Games in this issue. 

September 2010

1/9/10 -- A Panel under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting recommends amendment to the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 to stop piracy in the country.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Create Level-Playing Field

Indian consumers don’t want to shell out more than Rs 200/- per month for a decent TV viewing experience, the fact that was revealed by a Centre for Media Studies (CMS) survey for cable TV services in non-CAS areas. While 90% consumers were ready to pay more in the last survey done, three years back, today the figure has come down to 25%. It was an eye-opener for all of us who always talk about consumer’s interest at each and every stage but we never tried to actually make this happen on ground.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Tariff creates fuzz

TRAI has finally come-up with the new tariff both for addressable (DTH, IPTV, CAS-notified areas) and non-addressable TV distribution systems (non-CAS areas). The regulator although seems to have failed in its endeavour as its “appease all” tactic has not pleased any of the stakeholders in the industry. Cable operators allege that the regulator is favouring the broadcasters by allowing them to increase their rates by 9 percent in lieu with the inflation and at the same time, it reduced the maximum tariff limits from Rs 260 to Rs 250 in non-CAS areas, putting extra pressure on already burdened small operators. The operators argue that if they collect a lesser amount from subscribers how they will be able to pay the hiked rates of pay-channels to the broadcasters. The operators are also barred from choosing channels on a-la-carte basis, an option which is provided to DTH consumers in the latest tariff order. With a-la-carte, they would have selected only the desired channels for their areas of operations. 

August 2010

1/8/10 -- India’s second 24X7 TV shopping channel Star CJ launched.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Traiff Decided

During entire month of June, industry regulator TRAI and other stakeholders were busy deciding on the cable TV tariff in non-CAS areas. After a consumer survey, consultation paper and several intense meetings with all stakeholders, TRAI is expected to come-up with a proposal, capping the monthly cable TV tariff to Rs 250 plus taxes for a complete bouquet of channels. However, operators are allowed to charge lesser. For free-to-air channels, consumers have to pay just Rs 100. 
Among many other issues, the long-pending issue of bringing parity in the price that cable operators and MSOs pay to broadcasters in order to access their content was also discussed upon. Rationalization of the price structure at par with other technologies such as DTH and IPTV was long needed and I hope that this time, it would get clearance from the Government. 

July 2010

1/7/10 -- ChrysCapital, a private equity firm offloads its entire equity of 6.36 percent in the cable giant Hathway Cable and Datacom Pvt Ltd.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

3G Happens At Last

It has emerged out to be a much more intricate as well as prolonged process than expected yet at the same time raked-in more moolah than anyone had ever thought of. Yes… I am talking about much hyped 3G auctions which completed in 34 days and has garnered over Rs 67,700 crore for the exchequer. The Government had initially thought of earning Rs 36,000 crore from the auctions. Auctions have not only gone way past the Finance Ministry’s projections but have provided a much needed elbow room to the Ministry to bring down the fiscal deficit below the level of 5% in the current fiscal. 
3G services from private operators are expected to be rolled-out by September, this year, heralding a new era of competition among telcos which are already struggling with the declining ARPUs. So while the 3G brings plenty of choices to the consumer, it has brought a new opportunity to maximize their revenues. 3G services will definitely expose the consumers to newer digital infotainment services paving way for the triple-play services on cable and for value additions on DTH. All digital services will benefit from such awareness. 

June 2010

1/6/10 -- leading Bollywood music channel B4U Music launched in Africa.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Too Many Consultations No - Result

Month of April kept everyone busy studying the three important consultation papers put up on their website by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. I feel it is too harsh on the stake holders to make them answer such lengthy papers comprising of more than 100 pages of text in a matter of 20 days to a month. No one will be able to comment with a cool mind giving due thought to all the aspects. People are sending their comments only because similar papers on Non CAS area tariff, issues concerning HITS and CAS area issues have already been discussed on earlier occasions since 2004 and nothing has come out of all these elaborate exercises. No one appears to obey the sector regulator and Ministry is sleeping with TRAI’s numerous recommendations. Replies coming forth from the stake holders indicate their frustrated minds.

May 2010

1/5/10 -- Ending a four-month of blackout, ESPN Star Sports re-joins Digicable Network.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Rural Connectivity... Bridging Urban-Rural Divide

India started the first decade of 21st century with a magical (at least for Indians) utterance of “Information Technology”, a term which has largely been seen in its totality and has not been operated and analyzed with respect to the Indian realities. To analyze the situation emerging at the end of the first decade, in a more detailed manner, I divide the term into two – Information and Technology. 
It is quite often said that information will be the single most powerful tool to force through the social transformation in India but what is more important than information is access to the information as well as innovative use of the information. There is no doubt that Information will play a pivotal role in making India a knowledge powerhouse by the end of this decade (as expected by the Government) but the same will not happen until the information is accessed by the people at large that too in an equal manner across the country. So the availability of information and access to information, both are important issues to be addressed. 

Are we Ready for more FDI ?

We have to check whether any further increase in FDI will render thousands of people who are employed with cable operators, jobless while opening the doors to foreign media houses to take control of Indian media and infrastructure. Like this, several pertinent questions are yet to be answered. Let’s try to sum-up this, here. - Mrs Roop Sharma 
There is no doubt that the FDI plays an important role in the economic development of a country by enhancing competitiveness through transfer of technology, strengthening infrastructure, raising productivity and generating new employment. In case of broadcasting however, I wish to know whether any evaluation of foreign investments in the industry has been done so far since the last regulations to increase the FDI cap from 26% to 49% were introduced. I feel that there is still a need to take a stock of the goals achieved in terms of transfer of technology, betterment of infrastructure and generation of new employment due to FDI poured-in the country, till date. 

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Need to Bridge the Digital Divide

When the Government approved HITS (Head-End In The Sky) policy on November 12, last year, WWIL shares gained by 20% a day after, since it was the only license-holder to carry-out HITS operations in the country. But the cheers could not stay for long. Four months on, and WWIL decides to with-hold its HITS operations disappointing many cable operators who had started using their services making huge investments. Government must take the blame once again for making hurried decision in allowing HITS without putting distribution and interconnection policy in place. There were no guidelines for the broadcasters for giving content to the HITS operators. 
I personally feel if the government announced the policy to introduce HITS, they should have supported it wholeheartedly like they did in case of IPTV. It could be a major setback to the Government’s plan to improve the connectivity in rural India with HITS. 

April 2010

1/4/10 -- Tru TV enters Asia, launched in Singapore.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Time to budget

Industry has been waiting desperately for the Budget 2010 that was announced on February 26. India is out of the grip of the global recession and many priority activities must start this year like digitization of cable networks, adopting newer technologies of broadcasting before the Commonwealth Games kick-off, spreading broadband in the rural areas etc. The budget rode on the economy which has done well in 2009-10 with an increased industrial output and the confidence coming back into the consumer market. Expectations of achieving 9% growth in GDP and fiscal deficit down to 5.5% in the next year has brought cheers to the industry. However, common man is still facing the brunt of rising prices. Consumption levels going down will affect the industry adversely.

March 2010

2/3/10 -- A South Indian news channel Sun News airs visuals claiming them to be of Swami Nithyanand in compromising position with a film actor – Ranjitha. The enraged public attack Sami ji’s Ashrams in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, a day after.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Hey - days begin

India Inc. has started registering profits in third quarter of the current fiscal year, posting new hopes for the next financial year. Media Companies that were running in huge losses have started recovering on the back of increasing revenues. 
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has decided to put a cap on the number of channels that can be permitted for uplinking/ downlinking from the Indian soil. Zee Group and many teleport operators have come out in the open to oppose the issue. 

February 2010

1/2/10 -- DQE announces a deal for exclusive free-to-air TV rights with MediaCorp Pte Ltd for three of its Animation TV properties.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

The Way Forward

Broadband penetration in India is the biggest worry of the Government now. But the way, we are going ahead with all wireless technologies neglecting the wireline connectivity is not the right way, comments Col. K. K. Sharma. Cable TV networks could play important role if given the right impetus, he feels. 
On December 04, 2009, while addressing a telecom conference organized by FICCI our Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said that 25 lakh village panchayats would be connected with broadband by the end of 2012. At present India has a total teledensity of 20%. While towns and cities have over 100% tele density rural areas have less than 10%. Dr Singh said “We expect that access to broadband in rural areas will have multiple long term positive effects.” 

Friday, 1 January 2010

A New Era of Competition Begins

BEGINNING OF 2010 ALSO MARKS THE END OF RECESSION AND START OF HEY-DAYS OF INDIAN ECONOMY. THE NEW YEAR BRINGS A LOT OF HOPES FOR THE INDUSTRY. Commonwealth Games will act as a catalyst to speed up the developments. Technologies to watch in the new year are High Definition TV, HITS, WiMax and 3G .This will usher in a new era of competition between the telecom operators and the cable operators. We may even see some acquisitions and mergers to facilitate convergence. There are signs of digital cable spreading all over, at least in big cities to meet the competition in providing HDTV, Video on Demand , High Speed Internet and Content Storage applications like the PVR/DVR. 
Digitalisation of Cable was the high point in the annual SIMCON conference of the state Information Ministers. This was the first time that the I&B Ministry invited the stake holders Broadcasters, MSO and Last Mile Cable Operators to give their presentations before the delegates from states. Content code, Digitalisation of Cable, Piracy of content and Tax rationalization were the main subjects discussed at the conference. 
Meanwhile, TRAI is still grappling with the information received from Ernst and Young, the agency deputed for the purpose of surveying the industry stake holders’ account books to decide on new tariff regime for the non-CAS areas. We are told that the information is not authentic and needs to be handled carefully by TRAI as it effects future development of the market. The outcome will be known soon since TRAI has to answer the Supreme Court on the subject in this month. 
Haryana State government has started an alarming trend of auctioning the municipal areas for running Cable TV networks. Although the process has been halted as many major cable operators and MSOs have gone to the court, it may prompt other state governments to follow the trend endangering the livelihood of thousands of small cable operators who are already in a grind competing with DTH and IPTV. The move which is violating the existing regulations prompted the I&B Ministry to approach the Law Ministry. 
Following the footsteps of Maharashtra and UP Government, Delhi has also proposed levying entertainment tax on DTH subscribers. Cable TV subscribers are already in the Tax net. It may affect DTH growth which enjoyed addition of half a million subscribers every month in the last year. 
Focus, the entertainment summit by ASSOCHAM was held in the capital successfully with Katrina Kaif adding the glamour. 
After a resounding success of our annual issue, last year we are glad to present “Cable-Quest annual 2010”, This time in a bigger way by adding information relavant to everyone including technology, regulations, content trends, major events of 2009 and directory of the industry. Our website turns into a new Avtar with daily updates and plethora of information that. So don’t forget to make it your home page. Your comments and suggestions will help us improve further. 
We thank you for the continuing support and wish a very happy and prosperous New Year.

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma


Source: http://cablequest.org/articles/editorials/item/1797-a-new-era-of-competition-begins.html

January 2010

Friday, January 01, 2010 -- Worldspace goes off-air in India and Airtel Digital TV replaces 10 WorldSpace radio stations with AIR channels on its network.

Can Infrastructure be Shared in Broadcasting Sector

Broadcasting Industry today has grown to an enormous size in the country. Each Distribution Platform Operator (DPO) retransmits on an ave...