Wednesday, 29 October 2014

TRAI – A Wrong Choice for Broadcast Regulations

Although TRAI has been given the task of regulating the broadcast industry since 2004, it has not proved its mettle in doing so. Every regulation and tariff order issued by TRAI has been challenged in the courts and stayed. Industry is still in chaos and every stakeholder is taking the system for a r ide. The situation is back to the origin of the industry when it was like the ‘Wild West’ where powerful and moneyed people ruled. It is becoming clear that all policies of Digitisation have failed to be implemented. No government can force 600 million people to migrate to a new technology by showing a stick. 

Mobility and Connectivity is the theme of IBC 2014

iMobility and connectivity challenge and complement broadcasting at IBC2014

Tales of LCOs harassment, touch Rahul Khullar's heart

For the first time TRAI Chairman was moved hearing sad tales of arassment, arm twisting and  use of criminal force on LCOs by the MSOs in order to capture their last mile business taking shelter of the Regulations.

Kerala Cable TV Federation Consolidate one Digital Network for the Sate

Kerala Cable TV Federation has launched its own Digital Cable TV headend on 9 September in Cochin that will consolidate 14 digital networks in the state.

TRAI Open House on Platform services hijacked by LCOs

TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar and his officers abandoned the Open House Discussion on regulating the Platform Services in distribution networks, being held at BSNL Office in New Delhi on 24 September 2014. Perhaps, this is the first time in the history of TRAI that stakeholders did not allow the open house discussion to start forcing TRAI officials to walk out of the hall.  

TRAI is in the Dock

Phase III and IV of digtisation have been postponed till December 2015 and December 2016, respectively. This is the major step taken by the new government for correcting the wrong of last UPA government, mandating Digitalisation of Cable TV Industry in whole of India, to be completed within 2 years, a task many developed countries have not done even in 10 years. 

Flaws in DAS Regulations - Patrick Raju

Karnataka State Cable TV Operators Association apprised the TRAI Chairman of discrepancies  in the DAS regulations and has demanded leveling out these before the next phases are taken up. Patrick Raju, association president explains these flaws.

India reaches the Mars

It was a historic moment on 24 September when the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi congratulated the space scientists for successfully inserting the Mars Orbiter Mission into Martian orbit in their very first attempt, creating a history. The Prime Minister said that Indian scientists, through their hard work and dedication, have stretched the boundaries of human enterprise and  imagination. He described the Mars Orbiter Mission as an indigenous pan-Indian effort, stretching from Bangalore to Bhubaneswar, and Faridabad to Rajkot. Mr Modi remarked that he had chosen to be present at ISRO today, unmindful of success or failure of the mission. You have "made a habit of achieving the impossible," the Prime Minister said. He said Modern India must continue playing its role of Jagadguru Bharat.

InfoComm India 2014 Exceeded All Expectations – A Resounding Success

Number and quality of exhibitors and visitors set new benchmarks for industry

Telangana Operators want Interoperable STBs

Greater Hyderabad & Ranga Reddy District Cable TV Operators Welfare Association met the I&B Minister, Sh Prakash Javadekar during his recent visit to the newly formed state and submitted a memorandum explaining their problems faced in implementing DAS

TRAI – A Wrong Choice for Broadcast Regulations

Although TRAI has been given the task of regulating the broadcast industry since 2004, it has not proved its mettle in doing so. Every regulation and tariff order issued by TRAI has been challenged in the courts and stayed. Industry is still in chaos and every stakeholder is taking the system for a r ide. The situation is back to the origin of the industry when it was like the ‘Wild West’ where powerful and moneyed people ruled. It is becoming clear that all policies of Digitisation have failed to be implemented. No government can force 600 million people to migrate to a new technology by showing a stick. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Phase III & IV get Extension

In a very silent way Modi government has extended the deadlines for mandatory digitization Phase III and Phase IV to end of 2015 and 2016 respectively. I feel this is a very good move keeping in mind that the feedback received by the Ministry for Phase I and II was not very encouraging. Indigenous manufacture of STB is the biggest worry of the Ministry. Consumer end problems like rate increase, lack of choice of content, poor quality STBs, no itemized billing is the second major problem. Cable Operators are a happy lot as this is a big relief for them but Broadcasters are very unhappy.

Cable Day Celebrations in Bengaluru, Gulbarga, Hassan, Karnataka

Cable Day Celebrations in Bengaluru, Gulbarga, Hassan, Karnataka

Road to Survival- LCO becomes MSO Cable Making Co-operatives

Delay in completion of Phase III and IV has given the LCO an opportunity to become a DAS MSO himself and be a part of Digital India

States are ignorant of DAS Regulations- Assam Operators tell Prakash Javadekar

In Assam there are more than 40,000 individuals involved either directly or indirectly involved in Cable TV Industry. Since Assam is already considered to be an industrially backward region, the scope of employment for educated unemployed youths is also very negligible. The political, economical situation of this region has resulted in the unemployment of large numbers of educated youths. But the Cable TV Industry has been able to create self employment for thousands of educated unemployed youths in the last decades although without any government patronage.

DAS not Implemented as Legislated

Phase I and II covered 42 cities including four metros with total C&S homes at 32 million. It is estimated that around 22 million have been deployed till June 2014. It is believed that this number includes non-addressable digital STBs too which act only as D2A converters for viewers. In other words there is still a gap of more than 10 million STBs yet to be deployed. Besides, this number increases if we take additional TVs in the home-based subscribers. However, the following two problems need to be addressed for Phase I and II Digital Addressable System i.e. DAS.


1.Cable TV networking started some time in 1985 with transmission of video tape replays aggregated with S Band satellite casted two Door Darshan channels. Later with STAR TV launching programs, followed by ZEE News and Movies the number of channels rose to 12.The service was NOT considered legal till promulgation of Cable TV Networks Regulation Ordinance 1994, which later became an Act in 1995. 

Get us rid of ARASU Demand Tamil Nadu Cable Operators (TCSPA)

Cable Operators of Tamil Nadu state are squeezed between DAS and ARASU. In spite of Chennai being in the first phase of Mandatory Digitisation, the state run MSO still does not have a DAS Registration to operate a digital headend as per the government mandate. LCOs were already fedup with the monopoly of Sun TV owned Sumangali Cable Vision earlier and thought state run MSO ARASU will prove a life line for them. Instead, it has become a bone of contention as State government has not only forced operators to get connected to it but also demanded operators to charge only a measly sum of Rs 70 as monthly subscription out of which they also must give Rs 20 to the state government. Operators lament that this is hardly any revenue to operate a digital service cable operation complying with the Central government mandate that allows ‘pay’ channels to harge the any amount they wish. 

Non Compliance of Regulations to attract Financial Disincentives

DAS has hardly succeeded in Phase 1 and 2 cities when TRAI is thinking of imposing fines for MSOs and LCOs for not complying with its regulations. It has issued a Consultation Paper on 28 August 2014 to amend the Standards of Quality of Service (digital addressable cable TV systems) Regulations. 

RIO Rates of Broadcasters are not Consumer Friendly

RIO rates offered to the MSOs by the 'Pay' Broadcasters under DAS for redistribution of the Pay TV content to the various LMO/ LCOs that are further offered to the consumers by their respective last mile service providers are against the mandate of digitisation increasing the subscriptions exorbitantly. In case the last mile service provider in the value chain, starts to charge a mere 30 % distribution and servicing cost from the consumers towards the cost / expense incurred on operations and collection of subscription dues, there will be a substantial increase in sub scription charges payable by the consumers, whereby if you calculate the price as per the RIO offered by the pay TV broadcasters for about 30 -40 channels in SD “Standard Definition” format including popular entertainment, sports and news channels that are actually being watched and subscribed now, add up the cost of servicing, collections, the Basic service tier, the applicable Service Tax and Entertainment tax, it will amount to not less than Rs. 300 to 350. This will be more than twice what the same customer is paying today, in stark contrast to what you had asked them in the form of ‘Trade off’ of Digitisation by reducing the cost to consumers.

Operators Suggest State Level Task Force for DAS implementation

Greater Guwahati Cable TV Operators Association (GGCOA) delegation lead by its President, Mohd. Iquebal Ahmed met state Chief Minister Sh Tarun Gogoi and discussed various measures the State Government can take to ensure smooth implementation of mandatory digitization as envisaged in Cable TV Networks (Regulations) Act Amendment of 2011. They told the CM that hundreds of self employed youths are involved in this profession, which started with 2 channels in early 90s, being brought under the purview of Cable TV Act way back in 1995, recognized as Small Scale Industry by the Government of India in 1994 itself. 

Road to Survival- LCO becomes MSO Cable Making Co-operatives

Delay in completion of Phase III and IV has given the LCO an opportunity to become a DAS MSO himself and be a part of Digital India

Friday, 8 August 2014

Indian DTH is on Cloud Nine

With th arrival of new government in the country, things are changing in a positive way. The economy is going up and industrial production is increasing. This growth will also be reflected in Broadcast Industry in the coming times. However it needs a lot of change in the policies as most of the DAS regulations for implementing digitalisation have been challenged in the courts. 

DTH Status in INDIA

DTH Status in INDIA

DTH Value Additions keep it one up on cable

DTH has come a long way in 2014, getting a real boost from the MIB initiated mandatory digitization of cable TV. Started in 2004 with just one operator Dish TV, we have six private and one government funded FTA DTH service in India. With 64.82 million connected households, it offers best of the quality at par with the best in the world. What distinguishes a DTH service from cable TV in India is the multifarious value additions a DTH service provides to the consumer.

OTT Multiscreen Service Trends for the DTH Market

As consumer demand for high-quality video content on a wide range of devices continues to increase at a steady rate, many DTH providers are looking to enhance their current offerings with an OTT multiscreen service. In fact, according to research firm Parks Associates, multiscreen services now reach 66 percent of pay-TV subscribers in Western Europe, 21 percent in Eastern Europe, and 9 percent in Asia. 
Deploying an OTT multiscreen service can be easy utilizing an integrated video preparation solution that includes systems for encoding, packaging, recording, and playout. However, service providers do face a number of challenges. This article examines the key trends that DTH providers should take into account to ensure success in the OTT multiscreen environment.

TRAI recommends easier DTH licensing norms

It’s a bonanza for the six private DTH operators this time as Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has acted like a wish fairy for them giving them almost whatever they had wished in its recommendations on issues regarding DTH license. 
In its recommendation the authority has reduced their license fee to 8 per cent from the 10 per cent and levied on average gross revenue (AGR) basis rather than gross reven ue (GR) basis. Once the government accepts these recommendations, DTH operators will fee save up to 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent in license fee.

Software-centric Video Service Delivery Leveraging New Technologies for Enhanced Revenue Security

The video services industry is experiencing a steady technological shift towards networks and other infrastructure components that will be fundamentally based on IP technologies, signaling a movement away from a hardware-defined value proposition to one that is more software-centric and adaptable. 

Friday, 11 July 2014

Consumers must benefit from Digitalisation

On 11 June Cable Operators from all states, gathered in New Delhi, to chalk out a path for themselves fighting against some disturbing regulations that have endangered their livelihood. Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI) along with NCTA organized the event that attracted more than 600 cable operators from all over India.

Screens-2014 Assocham annual summit on Media and Entertainment

The 8th edition of  ‘Screens’, Assocham’s annual summit on Media and Entertainment, was held on 23rd June, 2014 at Hotel Le Meridian, New Delhi. The theme of Screens this year was ‘Redefining Infotainment’.

BroadcastAsia2014 Show Review 17-20 June 2014, Singapore

BroadcastAsia2014 – Asia’s most comprehensive and integrated broadcasting, digital multimedia and entertainment event in Asia, came to a successful close on 20 June 2014 at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. This year, the event attracted a total of 17,596 attendees from the broadcasting, film, pro-audio and live entertainment event industry from over 87 countries / regions, an 8.1% increase from its last edition in 2013.

Drastic Changes in Content Distribution Scenario

On June 16th through a public notice published in the leading newspapers, Times Television Network had informed the stakeholders that from April 1, the network will no longer be distributed by the content aggregator TheOneAlliance. After a couple of days IndiaCast UTV, a joint venture between IndiaCast Media Distribution and Disney UTV had announced to end their joint venture. Why all these breakups? Its all to do with the TRAI regulations to level up the industry for the smooth implementation of Digitisation.   

Training the Cable TV Technician

Cable TV Technician, in the Indian context, constitutes the most important link in general and DAS implementation in particular because he installs the service, collects subscription in most networks, personally knows the end user and has social contacts with competitors also. He has picked up technical skills on the job and knows the amplifier to house drop route subjectively remembering even the installed picture quality.

TRAI Consults on Commercial Tariff

Following the Supreme Court order, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on June 11 had issued a consultation paper that relooks at the regulatory framework for tariff applicable for commercial subscribers. The Hon’ble Supreme Court on 16 April 2014 had directed that the impugned tariff, which is in force as on today, shall continue for a period of three months. Further, within these three months, TRAI will look into the matter de novo and re-determine the tariff after hearing the contentions of all the stakeholders.

Consumer Woes don’t end, post Digitisation

India is home of roughly 157 million cable TV households today, up fr0m 400,000 in January 1992 and 94 million in 2011. “Cable TV” is so popular in the country that it is one of the only devices known to have penetrated pretty much every income group. This was possible only because in the first fifteen years there was no regulation existed. Cable TV Act that came in 1994 was limited in its use as broadcasters were out of the ambit of the Act.

Digital Media India Summit-2014

Frost & Sullivan hosted the third edition of its ‘Digital Media India Summit’ on June 24, 2014 at Le Meridien, New Delhi. A large number of broadcasters, pay TV operators, digital media service providers, digital equipment manufacturers and production houses had participated in the summit and expressed their views on various aspects. 

Mukesh Ambani New Media Mogul

In a move that signals the emergence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani as a media mogul, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has acquired a controlling stake in Network18. The announcement came on 28th May when the Board of Reliance industries  approved funding of Rs. 4000 crore to Independent Media Trust (IMT), of which RIL is the sole beneficiary for taking over Network 18. IMT would use the funds to acquire control over Network18 and TV 18, resulting in ownership of about 78% in Network18 and 9 per cent in TV18, and to acquire shares tendered in the open offer. 

Prakash Javadekar Clear his vision toward many aspect

As soon as he took charge of the ministry, Prakash Javadekar the new I & B Minister in the BJP led NDA government has been a busy man. Since he is handling two ministries, I & B and Environment, his responsibilities keep him busy from morning to evening attending conference, meeting and making statement on behalf of the government.

Standard of QoS for DAS

Connection/Re-connection/Disconnection of Cable Service : Any person seeking connection or disconnection or shifting of cable service connection or intending to obtain or return set top boxes at a place located within the area of operation of MSO/LCO may submit an application duly signed and complete in all respect to MSO/LCO who will return the duplicate copy of applicant as an acknowledgement of receipt of application. Applicant shall also give a unique identification number.  Every application submitted by the applicant to MSO/LCO shall be acted on immediate (within two days of receipt of application) basis. In case if MSO/LCO finds that in application there is a technical feasibility to perform services demanded by applicant, he is bound to inform applicant within two days about the nature of feasibility.

Local Video Channels and VAS under Scanner

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 23 June 2014 have issued a consultation paper for regulating channels and services offered by local cable operator and direct-to-home (DTH) operators called platform services. 
“Platform Service, according to TRAI are programmes transmitted by the Distribution Platform Operators, exclusively to their own subscribers and doesn’t include Doordarshan channels and TV channels permitted under Downlinking guidelines.”  

Fight to finish

Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI) held an urgent meeting of Cable Operators from all over the country to initiate a Fight to Finish and defend their fundamental right to do business as last mile service providers. The meeting was held on 11th June 2014 at the Karnataka Bhawan Auditorium, R K Puram in New Delhi.

Making Consumers Aware

These are the TRAI Regulations that a Consumer must know while demanding a digital cable TV service.
Connection/Re-connection/Disconnection of Cable Service: Any person seeking connection or disconnection or shifting of cable service connection or intending to obtain or return set top boxes at a place located within the area of operation of MSO/LCO may submit an application to MSO/LCO and take an acknowledgement of receipt. Applicant shall also be given a unique identification number.  Every application submitted by the applicant to MSO/LCO shall be acted on immediately (within two days of receipt of application). In case if MSO/LCO finds it technically not feasible to perform services demanded by applicant, he is bound to inform applicant within two days about the nature of feasibility.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

New Government, new Expectations

What a coincidence it is that a few days before the new government was to take charge, there was a fire in the I&B Ministry Office and many files got destroyed. What files have been destroyed is not known to the media. We will know only when there is an enquiry.

Moving to the 4th Generation (4G)

 4G, short for fourth generation, is the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology, succeeding 3G. A 4G system, in addition to the usual voice and other services of 3G, provides mobile ultra-broadband Internet access, for example to laptops with USB wireless modems, to smartphones, and to other mobile devices. Even though 4G is a successor technology of 3G, there can be signification issues on 3G network to upgrade to 4G as many of them were not built on forward compatibility. Conceivable applications include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, 3D television, and cloud computing

Modi's Cabinet-A mix of old and the new

Narendra Modi : Prime Minister, retains with him the portfolios of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions; Department of Atomic Energy; Department of Space; all important policy issues and all other portfolios not allocated to any Minister.

MODI Model of Developing India

As the sun was setting in national capital on 26 May 2014, India witnessed the beginning of a new era at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Narendra Modi took oath as country's 15th Prime Minister  in a glittering ceremony witnessed by more than 4000 guests including heads of all SAARC nations and his predecess or Dr Manmohan Singh. 

Nripendra Misra joins PMO Appointed Modi's Principal Secretary, but not without a controversy

Former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman Nripendra Misra on 28th May has been appointed principal secretary to the prime minister, but only after the President of India signed an ordinance changing the appointment rulebook. The move came as a shock to the bureaucracy, which was united in the view that it would be a big blow to the autonomy of regulators, not only at the Centre but also in states. Misra is known to have low tolerance for ignorance among the people around him. Journalists interviewing him have also faced his cutting remarks, when he found them without the requisite homework. His new boss, Narendra Modi, is believed to have a similar no-nonsense approach to work. 

Broadcasters cannot dictate Minimum Subscription period

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on 25th April has directed the broadcasters not to ask a direct-to-home (DTH) service provider for a minimum subscription period of three months, the tribunal has also requested the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to relook at such Reference Interconnect Offers (RIOs). 

A new Perspective to Digitisation

With the  new government in place we should expect drastic changes in the way I&B Ministry is functioning, including its fast forward drive to digitalise cable TV Networks. Indications are that the present Government has a different approach to many issue in the media. Its overall approach is consistent with BJP manifesto before the elections where more emphasis was given to the welfare of the masses rather than please the corporate.

‘Acche Din Aane Wale Hain’ (Good Times are here to Come)

With the land slide victory of BJO lead by Narendra Modi, country awaits a coalition free strong and stable government. Broadcast Industry too expects to see some path-breaking decisions for the benefit of the nation rather than Ministry following an adhoc approach to benefit a few.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Blatant Violations of Content Codes

Seven legs of the election process are already over and in another twenty days we will see the party that will make the next government.

The Great Indian Digital Migration A Good idea Implemented badly

Policy of Digitisation is good on the whole. It was essential to go digital to keep up with the times for better quality, more choice, transparency, more Tax revenue, credibility in subscriber numbers and most important, to implement broadband on cable to enhance national economy. However, flaws in the Policies and misplaced priorities let it down.

Will Cloud replace Cable TV

There is a fierce legal battle going on in the US over broadcast of on Air TV content by a startup company Aereo which uses cloud technology to provide live or recorded television content to consumers at a fraction of the cost of Cable TV service. Aereo’s technology is particularly compelling when it enables members of the public to use broadband Internet access to join the lawful audience of free, over-the-air broadcasts using the public’s airwaves.

Electronic Media under EC Scanner

The Election Commission (EC) on 8th April had released guidelines for election coverage across the print, television and social media, reflecting the increased penetration and proliferation of new media platforms in the country.
Broadly, the guidelines outline the need for neutral and objective coverage of the elections and encourage all media stakeholders to exercise utmost restraint and shun paid news a phenomenon in which media present political parties and candidates in a favorable light in return for money.

MediaPro Split is not the End

Ever since the sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) had redefined the rules of the distribution game through its regulation on content aggregators, the news of Star DEN and Zee Turner ending their equal distribution joint venture (JV) Media Pro Enterprise India was expected anytime. 

Digital Terrestrial Television in India

Terrestrial transmission
Digital Television is the way of future, providing interference free  television reception and remarkable picture & sound quality. 

Top 5 Technologies Enabling the Connected Home

Marketeers no longer have to conduct marketing studies to prove that consumers have an insatiable appetite for smart devices, along with the world of instantaneous connectivity they depend upon. With the "smart revolution" reaching into every aspect of modern life, enabling technologies are quickly moving the concept of the connected home out of the realm of fantasy into a bold new reality.

Many pending issues for Indigenous Manufacturing

As per the projections made by I&B Ministry and TRAI regarding catering to STB demand by local manufacturers, not much has been achieved so far. Ministry has failed to convince the government about the importance of massive task of digitisation as no incentives have been given to Indian manufacturer to compete with the imports and also no measures undertaken to ensure payment of VAT by MSOs and DTH operators on imported STBs.

Will consumers see A La Carte Cable Service?

Cable rates have risen significantly where ever DAS has been fully implemented. It was assured by the Ministry as well as the Regulator that consumers will get plenty of choice and will be able to watch only those channels in digital cable which they subscribe and also pay only for them. Thus one of the biggest advantages of digital cable is that a subscriber can adjust his monthly billing according to his affordability by taking a basic package of 100 FTA channels for Rs 100 and a few ‘pay’ channels that he prefers to watch. This way he could manage his entertainment only in Rs 150 and of course the taxes. We are forced to ask this question after two years of DAS implementation if the consumer really started enjoying such a freedom.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Can we follow Leveson committee report on Media Ethics?

Manish Tewari while addressing a conference on the topics of Freedom of media and ethics stated that, Freedom of the press and journalistic ethics is an important topic today in India — with the word ‘press' encompassing the electronic media also. There should be a serious discussion on the topic. That discussion should include issues of the responsibilities of the press, since the media have become very prominent and very powerful.

CTMA Cable TV Show 2014

12-14 March 2014, Netaji Indoor Stadium, Kolkata

Customised Solutions for ISP Infrastructure

The Challenge
Ever since the role of internet has evolved from simple information exchange to multi-service field such as high quality audio & video online streaming, video conferencing, HDTV, storage on cloud, voice & data transmissions, the demand for high speed internet has been growing at an exponential pace. To ensure such high speed internet and deliver more value added services without disruption, successful Broadband ISPs have been planning to improve their last-mile network infrastructure.

Elections bring News Media in forefront

The Month of April will see the biggest democratic process go on as India goes for its Parliamentary elections. Every news channel is busy telecasting rallies of various political leaders, heated panel discussion on the possible outcome of elections and opinion polls. It is difficult to find a single channel that is unbiased. Every channel appears to have its own agenda according to its alliances with some political or industrial group.
Kejriwal led AAP party is in maximum news, not for anything else but its wrongdoings and remarks on the credibility of news channels, as Mr Kejiriwal  had publicly announced that most of the channels carry paid news or are biased . News channels are all out to also de-rate their rival channels carrying out sting operations against anchors who believe to be helping the Aam Aadmi Party. Many media persons have joined the party in the last few months. 

DTH operators owe 20 Billion to Government

Although the case is still pending in the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on 24th March has sent a letter to all the six private direct-to-home (DTH) operators asking them to pay outstanding license fee dues within the next 15 days. 

FICCI-KPMG projects Indian M&E industry at Rs 1,786 bn by 2018

The industry is expected to register a CAGR of 14.2% wherein digital advertising is expected to have the highest CAGR of 27.7% while all other sub-sectors are expected to grow at a CAGR in the range of 9-18% by 2018

Ongoing India Digitisation Providing Tangible Benefits - CASBAA India Forum 2014

CASBAA's annual spotlight on the Indian multichannel TV market was recently held on March 5, 2014 at the Shangri-La New Delhi. Attracting over 150 delegates, speakers and media, the CASBAA India Forum 2014 brought together leading government officials and industry decision-makers to debate on the state of Indian television and the global broadcast market.

Providing Broadband in Rural India

A meeting of Bharat Broadband Network Ltd was held on 24.03.2014 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, in connection with formal consultation process with the service providers to leverage the facilities created by NOFN for providing broadband services in rural India. Government of India has approved the setting up of National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) to provide connectivity to all the 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats (GPs) in the country. This would ensure at least 100 Mbps connectivity to each Gram Panchayat.This is to be achieved utilizing the existing optical fibre and extending it to Gram Panchayats. 

TDSAT Seminar, Shimla-22nd March 2014

On 22 March TDSAT held its seminar on ‘Regulatory Framework and Dispute Resolution in Telecom Broadcasting and ‘Cable Services Sectors’ in New Auditorium, Administrative Block, High Court of H.P at Shimla. These seminars are held regularly throughout the year in different cities of the country and aimed at discussing consumer issues in broadcasting and telecom sectors. The seminars also help to educate young lawyers and local stakeholders in understanding the dispute settlement process in the telecom and broadcasting sector. 

TRAI allows 27.5% hike in Channel Rates

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 31st March 2014 through a notification of the Tariff Order namely the “Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Second) Tariff (Eleventh Amendment) Order, 2014”, has allowed 27.5% inflation linked hike in the tariff ceilings. These revisions are applicable both at the wholesale and retail levels. 
Based on the rise in the wholesale price index (WPI) over the last five years and considering the other relevant factors, the Authority has brought an overall 27.5% inflation hike. However, the Authority is of the view that a hike to the tune of 27.5% in a single go would not be appropriate for the market and the consumers to adjust to. Therefore, the Authority has prescribed this hike to be implemented in two installments. The first installment of 15% shall be effective from 1st April 2014. The second installment for the remaining inflation linked increase shall be made effective from 1st January 2015 which shall be notified subsequently. This is expected to give enough and reasonable time to all the stakeholders to adjust to these hikes.

TRAI policy of 12 minute ad cap becomes furor for news broadcasters.

Rejoice came for TV broadcasters as Delhi High Court on 13th March 2014 in its interim order continued the stay on Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) ad cap regulation which limits their airing of advertisements to 12 minute per hour. Hearing the petition filed by News Broadcasting Authority (NBA) against the sector regulator’s 12-minute ad cap regulation, the Delhi High Court warned Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) from taking any coercive action against petitioners.  Despite being protected by the interim relief, the petitioners have to submit a weekly report on the consumption of commercial airtime in a clock hour. 

TRAI to check MSO Dominance in States

In a move that may disturbed various political parties from the Akali Dal in Punjab to the DMK in Tamil Nadu the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has decided to cap at 50 per cent the market share of multi-system operators (MSO) engaged in cable TV distribution. He said that we have received recommendations from TRAI. An inter-ministerial committee considered and accepted the recommendations. A policy architecture is now in the works.
The MSOs, having direct or indirect connections to political parties or leaders, have come to monopolise cable television distribution in several states. TRAI has observed that Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Orissa, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are dominated by a single MSO. Such “monopolies in the TV channel distribution market are not in the best interest of consumers and may have serious implications in terms of competition, pricing, quality of service and growth of the TV channel distribution market”, it said. Fastway Transmissions, which has come to almost monopolise cable TV distribution in Punjab, has been known to be controlled by the Akalis. Sumangali Cable Vision, an MSO associated with the DMK, has done the same in Tamil Nadu.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Arasu directs cable ops to issue serial receipt to customers

Cable operators of Tamil Nadu are facing a great dilemma. State government has forced them to join ARASU, a government initiated MSO but I & B Ministry given it only a provisional license. In fact the regulator TARI has recommended that no government or political party should own any media venture. If Ministry accepts and notifies these recommendations, ARASU loses it license and will have to wind up its operations. Thus Cable operators who depend on its signals will lose their business.
The other MSO in the state, Sumangali of Sun TV group is an archrival of ARASU, being patronized by the opposition party DMK in the state. Thus fate of 30,000 cable operators of Tamil Nadu hang in balance as coming from ARASU, Sumangali may not accept them. Hence they lose either way. Not only this, their livelihood is in danger as they are not allowed to collect more than Rs 70 from, consumers per, TV set whereas due to inflation, their day to day functioning becomes difficult if they do not get an ARPU of Rs 150 per TV connection. At present, after giving the government Rs 20 they are left with only Rs 50 per subscriber.

Interim Budget lowers STB price

The Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram presented the Interim Budget 2014-15 in the Lok Sabha with an estimated plan expenditure of Rs. 5,55,322 crore and non-plan expenditure of Rs. 12,07,892 crore. To boost the manufacturing industry in India, the interim budget has reduced the excise duty from 12 to 10 per cent. This reduction will bring down the cost of set top boxes.  The grants-in-aid for Prasar Bharati has been raised marginally to Rs 2,331.58 crore for 2014-15 from the revised estimates of Rs 2,089.56 crore in 2013-14. There is no separate investment by the government in the pubcaster for the second year in a row. There is no change in income tax rates.

TRAI Endeavour to Regulate Content Aggregators Will it succeed?

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has reduced the role of the content aggregators through its new Tariff Order, prompting multi-system operators (MSOs) and direct-to-home (DTH) service providers to instinctively feel that they can no longer be ‘bullied’ by the muscle power of Media Pro, MSM Discovery or IndiaCast UTV. Under the new regulation, content aggregators are barred from forming bouquets which have channels from more than one broadcaster. While curbing the powers of the content aggregators, the sector regulator has allowed them to function as ‘agents’ of broadcasters. The aggregators can continue to sell bouquets of more than one broadcaster, but they will be able to bundle channels from only one broadcaster (or its group companies).
The regulation notified by TRAI on 11th February will reduce the control of existing market powerful content aggregators over MSOs and DTH operators. If we go extreme we can conclude that this regulation will dismantle the joint venture developed by different broadcaster to run their channels. Big broadcasters, however, would have less impact. They have a wide spread of channels and would continue to command negotiating power. But the smaller broadcasters, especially news channels that were riding on the back of bigger bouquets, would feel the tremor.

LCOs Struggle for their Rights

Of late, many untoward incidents have started occurring in the industry due to neglect of regulator in taking action on the grievances of LCOs. Disputes between MSOs and LCOs over billing, submission of CAF forms and revenue share have increased. In one case firing was resorted to in a meeting of an MSO and LCOs and in another, some unidentified people has badly beaten up an MSO official. These things do not talk well of industry’s health. Such things happened in early nineties when the industry was evolving. We used to call it the Wild West of cable TV. Industry must find solution to such problems if it wants to progress.
Already in many states matter has gone to court because the Ministry and the regulator have totally forgotten the smaller players, be it LCOs or small broadcasters who are now forced to approach the judiciary, for justice. LCOs are fighting for their revenue share and control of subscribers and small broadcasters have gone to the High Court against Ad Cap regulations that will restrict their revenue earning capacity, making their business unviable.

LCO Struggle Intensifies

General Elections for the whole country will be held in this year in the month of April-May. We may have a very different scene in Phase 3 and 4 areas if there is a change in the political party that runs the government. I don't find any change in the already concluded phases as STBs have been almost seeded. 

TRAI wants review of 42% ceiling on tariff of pay channels

subscribers post DAS. They complain that already they are forcing subscribers to pay twice or even thrice the subscription they paid in analogue regime due to the new TRAI tariff order, rates of channels of various broadcasters, STB rentals and taxes. Increasing the subscription further will not be in the interest of subscribers and they may stop watching cable TV which will harm the business of cable operators whose only livelihood now is from the subscription amount. Earlier they had their video channels to help them overcome the financial crises through advertisements and also carriage fee but now in DAS, they are not permitted to carry any video channel. Also the MSOs do not give them any share of carriage fee. 
TRAI has also overlooked its own observation on discriminatory pricing in the latest tariff order dated 10th Feb 2014, where it clearly states that the price difference between a vertically integrated MSO and an independent MSO is as high as 85%. This goes on to show that the prices already mentioned in the RIO are very high. Thus, instead of looking after the interests of the smaller players, TRAI is helping the big players and vertically integrated groups to make more money. 

Media under fire

With more than 80,000 newspapers and over 850 satellite channels in several languages, Indians are seemingly spoilt for choice and diversity. India is coined as the biggest newspaper market in the world, over 10 crore copies of newspaper sold every day.  In the past two decades, the number of channels has grown from one-to more than 850, of which more than 410 are news channels.

Right of Way Brings More Trouble to MSOs

While drafting the amendment to Cable TV Act for mandating digitization, Ministry had ensured that all state governments provide a legal Right of Way (RoW) to cable operators and the MSOs. However while implementing DAS, the Ministry failed to ensure that all state governments do the needful by making proper legislation to allow cable operators and MSOs to use state infrastructure like the underground ducts and electric poles to sling their cables all across the cities. The result is very few states have brought in such regulation. Also, those who introduced the provision has taken it as an opportunity to exploit the MSOs to make money rather than facilitate an infrastructure that would help the state government in many ways like e-governance, flood and natural calamity warnings or promoting people friendly schemes.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Approaching a Rating Black out

New guidelines on rating TV may create rating blackout for country
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India has formulated policy guidelines for Television Rating Agencies to operate in India. These guidelines shall be applicable to all rating agencies providing television rating services in India and shall come into force after 30 days from the date of issuance of the same. The Government notified the guidelines on 16 January and set deadline of 15 February for implementation. But these guidelines have created a lot of furor. WPP-owned Kantar Group, one of the two promoters of TAM Media Research (the only company that offers television ratings at the moment) has gone to court against the ministry's directive. The clause that has bothered Kantar the most is the one that states, “No single company, directly or through its associates, is allowed to hold more than 10 per cent paid up equity in a rating agency if it also holds a stake in a broadcaster, advertiser or advertising agency”. Kantar owed 50 percent stake in TAM Media Research.

Recommendations don’t reflect Real situation

It is quite surprising to see the recommendations of the Expert Committee as all across the globe public broadcasters are going for digital terrestrial transmissions to save on spectrum but in India the committee has preferred satellite television which is highly cost intensive and uses more spectrum and scarce transponder space. Some of the points that are worth considering before taking a final decision are given below:-
Shortage of Satellite Transponders :  Apart from the high cost of satellite transponders required for Satellite TV there is a dire shortage of these transponders as India has very strict rules of buying only through ISRO. Our private DTH operators have been demanding transponders to increase their channel capacity but there are none available. It is difficult to understand why satellite is being preferred over terrestrial. 

Ministry Guidelines for TV Rating service in India

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (Govt. of India) has introduced policy guidelines to operate television rating service in India. These guidelines shall be applicable to all rating agencies providing television rating service in India and shall come into force after 30 days from the date of issuance of the same.   These guidelines are as follows:

Focus on Consumers in Phase III & IV

The year 2014 has started with great hopes. There have been positive signals from all sides. The I&B Minister, Manish Tewari in his address in the CII's CEO roundtable said that the industry must focus on the consumers most in the Phase-3  and 4 of digitization. 
The Minister also stated that he is very much concerned about various issues and hurdles experienced by stakeholders, particularly the cable operators and assured that the Ministry is in the process of resolving these issues after a dialogue with the industry very soon. In fact, he showed great concern on the reports from the market that none of the stakeholders including broadcasters, MSOs or the LCOs were happy with the way digitisation was progressing. In that case he was ready to postpone the deadline for Phase-3 and 4 to 2020, but on the insistence of the industry he kept the old deadline of 31 Dec 2014 intact. However, he asked the stakeholders to resolve their intra-industry issues among themselves without bringing government in the picture.

LCOs fighting for Fundamental Rights

Progress of digitisation in Phase II cities is held up because Consumer Acquisition Forms (CAF) have not been collected from all consumers and complete consumer data is not fed into the Subscriber Management Systems (SMS) to generate itemised billing.
Keeping in view the enormity and complexity of the task involved, TRAI has exercised regulatory forbearance in the interest of consumers and initially extended the time for collection of the CAFs and entry of these details in the SMS up-to November 2013. Thereafter, on the explicit request of the MSOs, further extensions of time up to December 2013 were given.

Focus on Interest of the Consumers- Manish Tewari

Excerpts from I&B Minister Manish Tewari’s address in the CII CEO’s Round Table on 24 January 2014

Mega Cable Fest, Kochi, Kerala 9-11 January 14

Kerala Cable Operators have welcomed Government initiative of digitising all Cable TV networks

TDSAT Seminar, Jaipur- 18 January 2014

On 18 January TDSAT held its seminar for consumer contact on 18 January 2014 in Hotel Clarks Amer, Jaipur. These seminars held regularly throughout the year in different cities of the country are aimed at discussing consumer issues in broadcasting and telecom sectors. The seminars also help to educate young lawyers and local stakeholders in understanding the dispute settlement process in the telecom and broadcasting sector.

5th CEOs Round Table on Broadcast New Delhi, 24 Jan 2014

CII organized its 5th CEOs Round table on 24 January 2014 at Hotel Le Meridien, New Delhi. The conference highlighted the issues of the industry in implementing Digitisation in Cable Television. 


The event was inaugurated by Hon’ble Member of Parliament and Former Union Minister, Shri Syed Shahnawaz Hussain at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Syed Shahnawaz Hussain had said, “I am pleased to be present at this important platform that recognizes the potential of the evolving telecommunications, media and entertainment industry and its contribution in boosting the economy, and overall growth of the nation”.

Recommendations don’t reflect Real situation

It is quite surprising to see the recommendations of the Expert Committee as all across the globe public broadcasters are going for digital terrestrial transmissions to save on spectrum but in India the committee has preferred satellite television which is highly cost intensive and uses more spectrum and scarce transponder space. Some of the points that are worth considering before taking a final decision are given below:-

Expert panel in favour of Autonomous status for Prasar Bharti

Information and Broadcasting Ministry on 28, January, 2013 constituted an expert committee under the chairmanship of technocrate Sam Pitroda to review the functioning of Prasar Bharti and to recommend steps to transform it into a world-class public broadcasting service. The committee has submitted its report to ministry on 24th January 2014 with a number of recommendations for smooth functioning  of Prasar Bharti.  Recommendations of committee address the issues of financial and administrative autonomy of Prasar Bharti; new models of funding with accountability; use of technology in the digital and cable TV operations; archive of DD and AIR rich content; establishment of social media platforms; huma n resource management for talent and skillful infusion. Collective implementation of these recommendations can transform Prasar Bharti into a world-class public broadcasting service.

Can Infrastructure be Shared in Broadcasting Sector

Broadcasting Industry today has grown to an enormous size in the country. Each Distribution Platform Operator (DPO) retransmits on an ave...