We have welcomed TRAI’s New Regulatory Framework for the Broadcast Industry because we have been waiting for a regulatory regime for our industry since 2004 when TRAI was handed over the responsibility of this sector. Progressive regulations are highly required to benefit all stakeholders creating a level playing field and steering the industry on a path of progress and profitability.
On 30 October, the Supreme Court upheld the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) tariff order for broadcasting sector. The apex court dismissed a petition filed by broadcasters Star India and Vijay Television which challenged the Madras High Court order allowing the TRAI tariff order and interconnect regulation.
Fifth-generation wireless (5G) is the latest cellular technology, engineered to greatly increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks. With 5G, data transmitted over wireless broadband connections could travel at rates as high as 20 Gbps by some estimates -- exceeding wireline network speeds -- as well as offer latency of 1 ms or lower for uses that require real-time feedback. 5G will also enable a sharp increase in the amount of data transmitted over wireless systems due to more available bandwidth and advanced antenna technology.
With the notification of the TRAI Tariff Order, Interconnection regulations, and Quality of Service (QoS) norms for the TV broadcasting sector on 3rd July 2018, the industry started gearing up to adjust their tariff in sync with the regulations, but the main appellant in the long-drawn case, Star India filed a fresh Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court on 4 July 2018, and on 19 July 2018, the apex court accepted broadcaster’s petition, challenging the Madras High Court’s ruling that the TRAI has the power to formulate tariff and regulations for the TV broadcasting sector.
No one can underestimate the immense good, bad, grey and black powers of technologies; while technologies are good for mankind and make their lives easier, it can also make their lives hell. This is what happened to the telecom regulator TRAI’s Chairman RS Sharma on 27 July 2018, when he, like an over confident child tried to vault over his horse by posting his Aadhaar number online in a bid to launch an open challenge to hackers to steal his data by using his Aadhaar number.
What does a ball do? It moves when it is hit. There are many ways to extend the time limit of a case; moving from court to court, judge to judge is one way, though no one can complain as the judiciary is over-burdened with millions of pending cases. But who will shed a tear on consumers’ interests getting eroded in the dance of a case?
Five months have passed since Digitisation Phase IV was declared completed on 31 March 2017 and the MIB is yet to get the information on the total number of STBs seeded in the country. All registered MSOs have been sent show-cause notice for not supplying area-wise STB seeding data and other required details of their headend, middleware, mandatory channels carried etc. vide MIB’s letter dated 28 June 2017, else they may lose their registration.
A total of 37 MSO licenses have been issued by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) between 9 May and 11 June. The ministry had cancelled 13 MSO registrations which had incomplete applications and missing documents. Karnataka got half a dozen licenses, followed by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (5 each). Tamil Nadu got two licences, while four MSOs from Odisha and three from Gujarat were also issued licences. The rest of the registrations were issued to MSOs from states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Delhi.
OTT has literally made consumer -the king! All over the world, people’s content viewing locations are constantly changing, thanks to the massive reach of internet, cheaper smart-phones and competitive data charges. People want content as per their own convenience and choice. In India, Reliance Jio’s free net services have brought tectonic shift in the way people consume content, as users could watch their favourite movies and TV serials or enjoy live cricket matches while they are mobile, at negligible rates. Earlier, it was not achievable given the high internet charges by the established telecom operators. Governments’ special focus and initiative to strengthen its Digital India program and introduction of 4G have given a big boost to the new media and OTT segment, forcing advertisers to shift their focus on this new trend to attract the new-age consumers.
The 19th century’s Industrial Revolution had changed everything in people’s life globally. The 20th century also witnessed several inventions which impacted human life worldwide. But the speed at which technologies are changing in modern times is mind-blowing. Every12month, something new comes, replacing the existing product and practice. This phenomenon has attractive as well ugly aspects, attractive because people get newer things which liberate them, ugly because it kills businesses of those who fail to change quickly. How can we throw the old stuff every now and then to buy the new ones? Upgradation ability is deliberately not ingrained in most of the technologies because it would not benefit the technology inventors and the corporate houses which invest huge money in producing these technologies.
Digitisation Phase-III has just ended on 31st January with government’s claim of almost 100 per cent STB seeding. Now only the 4th and final Phase comprising of rest of India, mostly rural, is left. It is expected to have 66 million connections including about 15 million terrestrial connections and 51 million analog cable TV connections to be digitised. Apart from this, about 20 million analogue connections are pending to be digitized from the earlier three phases due to court cases or any other reason. It may be recollected that many far flung areas of Phase- III where it was difficult to connect them with MSO networks in the given time, were also included in the fourth phase.
Today, most of the public funded terrestrial broadcasts in the developed world have become digital. The benefits of digital terrestrial broadcasting over analogue are numerous such as better quality picture and sound, high quality of TV reception, efficient use of frequency spectrum (one DTT transmitter can broadcast multiple TV channels while in analogue, one transmitter broadcasts only one channel), availability of TV channels on mobile phones and other hand-held devices while roaming with no internet connection, and a combination of rich bouquet of SDTV, HDTV, UHTV, mobile TV channels, radio service and other value added services (VAS).
Demonitisation that started on 8th November last year to end corruption, curb fake currency and check terror funding has been redesigned to achieve a cashless society, starting from less-cash, as often said by FM Mr. Arun Jaitley. This has led to sudden and rapid popularity of the digital tools for instant money payment and receipt. Not only private sector but also the government has introduced apps like BHIM to make the idea of a cashless society a reality. Now, people can make digital transactions from a simple mobile based system to the more complicated solutions of net banking, e-wallets, Aadhar based technologies, among others. We are giving a summary of these existing methods for readers to adopt:
The Ministry on 27 January permitted all registered MSOs to spread their digital networks pan India irrespective of the area for which they have been licensed. This is nothing but a last bit effort by MIB to achieve success in digitization in Phase-III by 31st January and Phase-IV by 31st March respectively. However, it may be impossible to get the results. Phase III has already been closed by the MIB on 31 January directing all broadcasters and MSOs to switch off analogue signals. A press release was issued on 25 January to this effect.
The Supreme Court on 17th January asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to notify its draft tariff order and interconnection regulations only if it has a strong reason to do so. Even if TRAI decides to notify the draft tariff order and regulation due to strong reasons, it has to place the draft before the Supreme Court to satisfy the issue of jurisdiction, the bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Rohinton Fali Nariman said in an order.
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