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. 
Interestingly, broadcasters too raised eyebrows. The anger on their part is about the TRAI’s decision to fix wholesale tariff for DTH and IPTV at 35% of the rates paid by the operators in non-CAS areas. The broadcasters are planning to move the court against the TRAI’s decision. They have accused TRAI helping the DTH companies. 
In case of allowing foreign investment into the broadcasting sector too, small time LCOs are completely neglected as the regulator recommended 26 percent foreign investment into the sector whereas, large MSOs are allowed to raise upto 74 percent foreign investments. 
The sector regulator and the government are doing all these in the name of digitization but where the digitization process is actually heading for and whether the government is serious about the digitization, we discuss the subject in detail in this issue. 
Broadcasters’ apex body Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) has come-up with self regulatory guidelines to regulate non-news content being shown on TV. How long it will go and who will abide by it, only time will tell! 
IBF in association with Society of Indian advertisers has also announced setting-up of a new TV rating agency – Broadcast Audience Rating Council (BARC). This has undoubtedly threatened the existing leader TAM and aMap. The Government is also likely to set-up its own rating agency. This will spur the competition in the TV rating business which is till date dominated by TAM. 
In this issue, we are also discussing various technological aspects of high definition television ahead of Commonwealth Games which is supposed to be telecast in HD format. I hope you all will find this insight useful while moving to HD. Enjoy the future! 

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma



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