Sunday, 1 May 2011

Supporting Regulatory Environment - An Immediate Need

This month we bring a special issue on digitalization. This subject has gained importance now as, for the first time the I&B Ministry has given their deadlines and phases to achieve this throughout the country. 
We are very glad that many experts in the industry from different fields have come forward with their views on this issue suggesting some immediate action by the government. One very important point that comes out from summarizing all these viewpoints is that merely setting dates to complete the process of digitalization is not sufficient. We need a supporting regulatory system and government’s ‘will’ to implement the same, irrespective of any pressures from various lobbies, national or international. 

Another important point that comes up is that since different ministries handle different aspects of the industry, there must be a well co-ordinated effort by all the agencies engaged in this process to help achieve the targets. For example the Telecom Ministry looks after the infrastructure, spectrum issues, registration of Cable Operators, RoW (Right of Way), satellite issues and USO fund, Law Ministry looks after the legal aspects including clearing of the license applications and legal aspects, I&B Ministry looks after the content and regulatory issues and Finance Ministry looks after the taxes and duties. 
If the government quickly puts in place a supporting regulatory environment , investments for the digitalization will automatically pour in. It will expedite manufacturing and imports and look after other technology issues too. 
One more aspect which has glaringly come into focus after a recent judgment of TDSAT is that ‘voluntary CAS’ and ‘voluntary digitalization’ have no meaning. Once the government has enacted a law to implement CAS and later restricted it only to a few areas in the Metros, it becomes imperative on the government to undo the same and apply CAS regulations all across the nation wherever operators migrate to digital networks. Else, the differentiating factor between analog and digital will never be there. 
Last two months also saw many exhibitions and conferences. Focus in these events was on digital technologies and new media. Television no more remains an idiot box, it has become very intelligent of late. Multiplatform delivery of television, interactivity and availability of content any time, anywhere is becoming a norm rather than an exception. This year we saw more Indian industry professionals in these events searching for new technologies and new partners. 
If all goes well, we are surely on a path of growth and hope to see better days ahead. 

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma


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