Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has send its final recommendations on “Restructuring of Cable TV Services” to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. If acted upon by the Government it will not only revamp the Cable TV industry but would also put India on the map of developed countries with predominant share of digital transmission of entertainment content.
TRAI released their draft recommendations on the much debated ‘Television Rating Points’ measurement system on 24 July 2008. In the open house discussions earlier, the industry was divided over the control and management of the system. The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) prefer to have a joint industry body to look after the matter without any government intervention where as Consumer bodies, Cable Operators Associations and MSOs feel the government control to some extent is necessary. Television Rating Points (TRPs) have been subject of much debate over issues on lack of transparency, inadequate sample size in terms of numbers as well as coverage in respect of platforms, some of the states and rural areas not getting any representation at all; leakage of panel homes which could lead to manipulated ratings, inadequate competition in rating services, and channels replicating content in their chase for higher TRPs to garner higher ad revenues. The viewer therefore, also becomes an important stakeholder in this business of ratings. There is thus a strong case for review of the present ratings system in India, both from the perspective of consumer welfare as well as to bring in greater transparency and its impact on competition in the market.
Discussions on Regulating the television content has ben going on since last one year after the government had put up a draft content regulations on the I&B Ministry’s website. The broadcasters had vehemently opposed any government regulatory control on them in the name of ‘freedom of press’ and decided to draft their own self regulations instead. Consequently News Broadcasters Association (NBA), an association of all news broadcasters formed last year for the purpose, drafted their own dispute redressal mechanism and a self regulatory code. Under these proposed regulations News Broadcasting Standards Dispute Redressal Authority would take care of any complaints.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has constituted a Sub-Commitee for rationalization of ‘Right of Way’ charges for the Cable Television Industry. First meeting of the sub-commiteehaving representation from all the stake holders was held in the Ministry on 11 June 2008 under the Chairmanship of Sh. Uday Kumar Verma, Add Secy., Ministry of I&B Since 1990 yet it dose not have a clearcut defined right of way regulation for laying its networks. Every State government, Municipal Authority and the Electricity Board has its own way of charging the Cable Operators for using electric poles or laying underground cables. The rates vary tremendously from state to state. This cost if ultimately passed on to the consumers.
TRAI released a consultation paper on Growth of Value Added Services and Regulatory Issues on 28th May, 2008. Consultation paper focuses on the approach for the growth, regulatory guidelines and terms and conditions in respect of licensing and provisioning of Value Added Services. The telecommunication services today have moved beyond their fundamental role of voice communications to a spectrum of non-core services, which in telecommunication parlance is called Value Added Services (VAS).In times to come people will buy mobile phones or any end user terminal device not just to remain connected for access but to express themselves in a variety of ways. Value Added Services are provided either directly by the telecom operators or by a third party Value Added Service Providers.
Indian viewers started their journey with two channels in 1991, now have crossed the mark of 300 channels and are at 313 as on 16th January, 2008.The number of channels is expected to reach 465 by the end of the 11th Plan. This has resulted in the battle for the eyeballs becoming more fierce amongst the broadcasters.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has issued a consultation paper on the “Issues Related to Internet Telephony” on 12 May 2008. Authority has recently taken major initiatives which will enable Indian populace to reap the benefits of technological advancements. In this connection Authority has already issued consultation papers on ‘Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)’ and ‘Carrier Selection’. Moving further in this direction is initiation of consultation process on Internet Telephony.
Ending all speculation surrounding the roll-out of conditional access system (CAS) in the country, the government on 8-Apr-2008 gave in-principle approval to CAS extension in rest of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, and subsequently in 55 cities in a phased manner as suggested by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a consultation paper on 3rd March 08 for reviewing the foreign-direct-investment (FDI) limits imposed on all sectors of the broadcasting industry, a move that could result in major liberalization of foreign-ownership regulations.
Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is rapidly becoming reality. According to California-based analyst firm Infonetics Research, revenues will soar to more than $44 billion in 2009 and 53 million households worldwide will be watching TV via broadband. IPTV will revolutionize the content delivery model. Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) are already an indication of the transformation. Consumers no longer have to view content at set times as dictated by the networks or subscribe to 120 channels in order to gain access to a few that they really wish to watch. The ability to skip through commercials spells the end for so-called prime time advertising. IPTV will change things dramatically and consumers will be able to view anything at any time in high definition (HD) quality.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released the recommendation on provisioning of IPTV services on 4 January 2008. IPTV is a new method of delivering and viewing television programs using an IP network and high speed broadband technology. It is fast becoming a popular value added service in many countries. The fast development in telecom technologies, enormous capabilities of IP platform and increasing digitalization in broadcasting sector is driving services like Internet Protocol TV (IPTV).The issue of provisioning of IPTV services was discussed in detail in TRAI's Position paper released on 6th September, 2007 and in the subsequent draft recommendation released on 28th November, 2007.
Broadband is high speed; always-on Internet access, which is widely recognized as catalyst for economic and social development of a country. Broadband enables people to surf Internet, provide access to enormous knowledge bank, to do business more efficiently, be better educated, have access to e-health services, benefit from better governance and enjoy enhanced entertainment. Availability of Broadband services at affordable tariff can have significant impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and attract new investment as well as generate more employment in addition to increase in Productivity. Therefore all these plus points of Broadband make it necessary to be a part of economy. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), recognizing the importance of broadband forwarded its first recommendations on “Accelerating Growth of Internet and Broadband Penetration” in April 2004. Based on this the Government announced its broadband policy in 2004 and projected that the number of broadband subscribers in India would reach 9 million by end-2007. However we have not even reached one third of the target which is a shameful thing.
The feud between Multi System Operators and the Broadcasters is nothing new. Every next day we may listen about it. But this time TDSAT's ruling for a dispute between Zee Turner and Bhaskar Cable Network of Jabalpur is being largely looked upon as a landmark judgment. Reason being that for the first time a decision has been taken by TDSAT in respect of declaration of connectivity by an MSO/Cable operator in non-CAS area.
A very familiar term for all of us! Every second day you may come across this phrase. It will not sound unusual, if you hear that the government wants to regulate the Television content. Government has been trying to put a check on the television programming since a long time. Starting off with just one or two channels, entry of foreign channels in India since 1991-92 gradually raised the number and today we have access to around 400 channels. A strong need for content regulation was there as the TV content had become absolutely open without any restrictions. All types of obscenity, nudity and violence could be viewed that was strongly affecting the children and other age groups in a negative sense. But the government was helpless in putting a restriction on the channels because till the year 2005, there were no regulations for TV. The first came in 1995 in the form of Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 but it was inadequate to control the content being shown on Cable TV. The Cable TV Act talked about a programming and advertising code which was merely a list of kind of programmes not permitted on Doordarshan. Infact, the responsibility of implementing these codes was left to the cable operators who had no judgmental powers to know whether a programme was adhering to these codes or not. The government had no say in restricting the transmission of channels because all the broadcasters beamed channels from foreign soils. The uplinking and downlinking regulations did not exist in the country which made the situation even tougher.
If everything goes as planned, from next year all metros would migrate to the CAS regime. A con sensus is slowly emerging among the channels regarding revenue and the quality of programmes aired on pay channels. With the price of pay channels fixed at Rs 5 trade pundits predict that there will be increase in the volume of growth post-December. Also, the fact that TRAI will review the scenario three months after implementation has helped them to approve the plan.
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