Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Give Cable a Level Playing Field

Cable TV industry is at the threshold of digitalization that will help not only the whole broadcasting industry but will also help the Nation take a great leap forward in the era of Convergence. In the convergence world every 10% increase in broadband penetration increases the National GDP by 1.4 percent. Last 20 years’ neglect of the industry has cost the nation very heavy leaving the cable TV infrastructure fragmented and in poor state. It is not practical to finish the job by 2014 but a beginning is always a good new.
This is a known fact that telecom companies have failed to achieve the broadband penetration in the last ten years. Wireless broadband is never a robust solution and technology changes fast. Fiber optic cables are the best way to gain broadband reach for many years to come. Today, cable operators reach 100 million household and can carry much higher bandwidth than the telecom companies. TRAI knows this and have relied upon the cable networks for providing almost 50% of broadband connections by 2014 in their draft National Broadband Plan.

Cable Industry needs Restructuring

The regulations should be made to benefit the consumers and protect the interest of thousands of small entrepreneurs who have been building up the large Cable TV infrastructure for the last twenty years, so that lakhs of people working in small networks and in supporting organizations do not go out of employment to please a few powerful and rich business houses. 
This concern was amply visible in the parliament during discussions on the Digitalization Bill recently, where every MP, particularly those coming from rural areas voiced their fear of small cable operators losing their business to the big companies and millions of poor subscribers deprived of cable TV entertainment as they would not afford to purchase the STBs. Please be known that the Minister of Information and Broadcasting had assured the Parliament that this would not happen and these concerns will be adequately addressed in the rules and regulations. 

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

February 2012


1/2/12 -- The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has been asked by the Central Information Commission to provide details of the shareholding by Kalanithi Maran in the direct-to-home (DTH) platform, Sun Direct. The CBI had earlier registered a case against Kalanidhi Maran, his younger brother and former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran regarding Aircel-Maxis deal with linkage to investment in Sun Direct.

Industry badly needs to be restructured

There is a hectic activity going on in the industry in preparation for implementing digitalisation. TRAI had put up a consultation paper for comments from the industry and surprisingly there are 83 entries in the comment list, never happened before. This is the first time in the history of Cable TV that so many people have responded to the consultation. Another surprise is that the respondents include many last mile cable operators who hardly raised their voice ever. 
This shows that this time industry stake holders are serious in implementing digitalization and do not want it to fizzle out like the CAS implementation in 2003. TRAI's consultation has raised some very serious questions on the intention of the regulator. Most of the questions lead to providing benefits to the broadcasters as if they are the most harmed people by the disorganized structure of the industry. In my point of view, this is a very wrong focus as and such hurried regulations that ignore the basic requirement of a robust Cable TV infrastructure meant to lead us to a higher broadband penetration will lead us to nowhere and the industry will remain where it is.