Saturday, 21 January 2012

Full Digitalisation: For Whom ?

It is quite surprising that in a country where implementation of addressability (CAS) was held up in 2003, with the excuse that the public perception was against it as STBs were being forced on consumers to watch 'pay' channels, we are now forcing STBs on all consumers to watch 'pay' as well as Free-to-Air (FTA) channels. How has the situation changed within these seven years that we want even the poorest of the poor subscriber to buy a set-top-box to see his daily dose of entertainment from some FTA channels? 
The Cable Act amendment passed in 2003 mandated all 'pay' channels to pass through an addressable system using a set-top-box whereas one did not require any gadget to see the basic package of FTA channels. The amendment was drafted after long discussions with the stake holders and the bill went through the Parliament just like the present Bill. However, the implementation was halted on flimsy grounds. 

Much More Needs to be Done for Digitalization

Media is abuzz with the news regarding implementation of digital cable in the country after the notification of the latest amendment in the Cable TV Act, mandating total digitalization of all cable networks by 31 December 2014 was issued in December. However, different factions of the industry are projecting different views on the subject to suit their business plans. This is causing a lot of confusion in the minds of the masses who are the most affected from the new law. Unfortunately, there is no one to project the point of view of the masses because, their plight will be known only after the government decides to switch off analog cable on 01 July 2012 in the four metros and force them to go for the DTH service or go without the TV entertainment. So far, government is also taking them granted. 

You cannot sideline the LCOs

Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 has been amended last month to introduce mandatory digitalization of all cable TV networks in India by December 2014. It is surely a revolutionary step and was due since long but not in the way it has been brought now. 
On the surface it looks good to see the 100 million analog cable TV households getting a complete digital signal within the next three years. This means, all these households will be broadband enabled. This will take our economy miles ahead because for every 10% increase in internet penetration, country's GDP rises by 1.4%. Can we really achieve this? 

Sunday, 1 January 2012

January 2012

3/1/12 -- Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan's appeal challenging the probe by the Election Commission into the authenticity of his expenses during the 2009 state assembly polls allegedly involving paid news will be heard on 3 February.

Ring in the Digital, ring out the Analog

Year 2012 has come with many hopes for the Industry. Digitalisation Bill getting through the Parliament has been the biggest achievement in 2011. Frankly, there is a lot of fuss but no direction for the industry to move on to. Many rules and regulations for implementing Digitalisation are being framed by the regulator TRAI. Stake holders have demanded clarification on tariff, revenue share, basic packages etc. from TRAI. Ministry is also planning a massive public awareness campaign. 
We only have the deadlines to wean out the analog. How long will it take for TRAI to draft the regulations and how long the government will take to implement them is any one's guess. The fact is more than 30 recommendations of TRAI on various needs of the industry are in the cold storage of the Ministry waiting approval. Surprisingly, the television news media, which is always looking for even a trivial issue to create news, never found 'Digitalisation' as an exciting news. We did not see any discussion or coverage of one of the most historic moment of the industry on any news channel.