Wednesday, 8 January 2014

2014- Hopefully a better year for the Industry

Results of Assembly elections in the four states of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh announced last month have dismayed the hopes of Congress Party as it has lost in all the states. Many are attributing this debacle to the anger of the common man, who is fed up with the rising prices of day to day needs. Although media has not highlighted due to vested interests, even additional expense forced on the common man by the Congress lead UPA government mandating digitization of the Cable TV services is being considered as one of the factors. Aam Admi Party coming to power in Delhi proves the power of common man in a democratic setup.  
As mentioned by me in my article last month. I always felt that Broadcasters took the 12 mnt Ad Cap issue to TDSAT only to delay the matter so that they get more time to violate the law and make more money till the ongoing digitisation brings better revenue to them. However, I feel it is only their hope. In reality market will be further fragmented and ad revenue will be shared among all the channels, lowering the revenue of many. 

Supreme Court’s ruling last month that TDSAT cannot adjudicate on TRAI regulations has come very timely. This has forced the news broadcasters to approach High Court against the TRAI ad cap regulation. They will now try to delay the matter here too. 
TRAI issued two directions to the MSOs last month to start giving itemized bills to the consumers using their SMS and billing systems. There is some action on this front but I am not sure how long will the process take in the Phase I & II cities as all CAF forms have not been collected till date.
In an open house discussion on the issue of renewal of a DTH licenses and issue of new license for DTH operation, TRAI chairman made it very clear that he would bring in completely new guidelines on the line of telecom industry. Both the issues were earlier raised in two separate consultation papers. I am glad that TRAI chairman is concerned about certain issues including interoperability of STBs and license fee.   
One important issue that did not come up during the discussion was DTH STBs going out of the country to neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, China and Thailand. Money transactions in these deals are all illegal and also if these STBs are active their count, supposed to be about 5 million must figure in what the TRAI reflects in its industry report every quarter. This is a wrong projection apart from the security risk.
JainHits is finally operational after it received all the content on the order of the Supreme Court. I am told that many cable operators have already started availing their services. They are providing cable and broadband services in their package.
We have lot of hopes in 2014. Issues in digitization must get resolved soon for the growth of the industry. Although general elections in May 2014 may become a dampner if there is a change in government.

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma


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