Thursday, 1 December 2011

Imature Media can not self regulate

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. 
Bhanwari Devi episode was a clear example where the media went berserk airing the obscene video time and again to attract eyeballs in a most unethical way without caring for its adverse impact on the families of the protagonists and the community as a whole. The common belief is that our television media is too much commercial, running after TRPs and not matured enough for self regulations. 
Process of Digitalisation has started in the Metros where LCOs are upgrading their networks with fiber optic cables, reducing the number of RF amplifiers to reach the consumers. Large MSOs are competing to grab the last mile, luring the LCOs with various offers because once the STBs are installed, relationship between the MSOs and LCOs will almost become permanent. Many new hardware as well as software vendors have started exploring the 100 million household analog market. 
However, the industry feels that merely announcing the sunset dates for analog will not achieve the aim of digitalization. There remain many other issues to be resolved and reforms to be introduced before we reap full benefits of Digitalisation. Roop Sharma, representing small operators examines some of the important issues from their point of view in this issue. 
In the meanwhile FDI in retail is creating a lot of noise in the current parliament session. I only fear, it may have its fall-out in the broadcasting sector too, where the government is planning to increase the FDI to 74% for the MSOs that may have an adverse effect on the LCOs who are retailers of cable TV services. 
The Digitalisation Bill has been introduced in the Parliament. We await its clearance by both the Houses in this Session provided the opposition lets this Session be run ending their fight against FDI in Retail. Anna is also ready for another fast keeping the government on tenterhooks for Lok Pal Bill. 
Although Media Pro, the giant content distribution company was formed jointly by Star, Zee and Turner, just before the regulation requiring a prior approval of Competition Commission of India for such mergers was introduced, the commission is examining its validity on a complaint by an affected party. It will be interesting to watch the proceedings. 
We wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy 2012. 

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma



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