Chairperson of Press Council of India, Markandey Katju set off a nationwide debate on the regulation of electronic media, in particular the television media stating that it should be under jurisdiction of the Press Council. The debate has kept all news channels busy protesting against his views through various talk shows. While all the media persons were against Katju, public views published in the news papers were completely in sync with him. However, Ministry is seriously considering his views to bring the television channels under the jurisdiction of the Press Council.
Success of the Ordinance largely depends on how it will be implemented on ground as many issues have to be sorted out by the regulator TRAI and the Ministry. Basic Tier pricing for consumers, pay channel tariff, a-la-carte distribution of channels, revenue share between stakeholders etc. need to be tackled as early as possible. Also, the government needs to educate the masses on digitalization and how will it affect their viewing as well as their purse.
My biggest fear is forcing an STB on the 40% subscribers of cable TV who come under the poor category, economically. Remember, the first experiment of CAS was made in the richest areas of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata and there too, the FTA channels did not need an STB to be viewed.
Hope the government plans to do something about this by giving subsidy to these people like the USA government, which doled out 40 USD for each poor household to buy an STB. In India, even the import has not been subsidized and there is almost nil indigenous manufacturing. If there is no help given, cable TV industry should be prepared to lose their connections en-mass, and broadcasters, their viewer ship.
Network up-gradation by the franchises will be another problem as heavy investment for the purpose may be beyond their financial limitation. They may be forced to sell off their networks to the MSOs and leave the industry forever.
Broadcasters and their distribution companies will be the biggest beneficiaries of this ordinance. It appears, the whole exercise has been done to help them make money even from the most unpopular channels and to cut down their expenses drastically on carriage fee.