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. 

Lack of spectrum availability on satellites to accommodate more TV channels was cited as a reason by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to justify its stand on capping the number of TV channels in the country. TRAI has released a consultation paper in this regard but this again seems to be a gimmick by the government to delay digitalization of the cable TV sector and help DTH and IPTV pick-up the market before the Commonwealth games. 
The brunt of regulation, this time was borne by Fashion TV as the Ministry for Information and Broadcasting banned the channel for 10 days. Earlier also, the channel was banned but it did not take it seriously. Content, therefore needs to be regulated in a more comprehensive manner. Paid news is another malaise catching on in the TV News segment. The I&B Minister is talking a lot for controlling the media but bows down to the broadcasters’ demand to self regulate which in practice can never happen at this stage when the TRP rat race is going strong. 
TDSAT organized a seminar in Dehradun for the first time and gave the opportunity to the consumer organizations, cable operators and other service providers to raise their problems and seek solutions. 
Technologies such as Blu-Ray are knocking at the doors but the viability of this is yet to be seen. While digital technologies in broadcasting are yet to spread across the country, the technology scene keeps changing fast as seen in the many exhibitions held during the last month. While Convergence India (March 23-25) brought the real convergence of technologies happening across the world, CASBAA summit brought about a slew of new ideas for the industry. Both events were held in Delhi. Others such as CABSAT – Dubai and CCBN – China have also achieved milestones in their respective regions.

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma

Editor

e: http://cablequest.org/articles/editorials/item/1794-need-to-bridge-the-digital-divide.html

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