May 2017


The I&B ministry has buckled & issued a provisional DAS license to Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd on 17 April. This destroys the TRAI's repeated & emphatic recommendation that government bodies (besides Prasar Bharti) must not be permitted into broadcasting. The centre had stood its ground since July 2012, refusing to grant Arasu a Cable TV license.

This MIB decision will open the floodgates for many state Govts to enter Cable TV & satellite broadcasting. Such moves will always have covert or even overt politically motivated agendas. State operated broadcasts could deliver a coloured perspective to illiterate viewers, financed by the tax payer's funds. The MIB can still revoke the provisional license. Will it?

Another equally important TRAI recommendation - on 33% Market Cap - is also at risk of being wilfully ignored. The merger of Dish TV and Videocon D2H DTH platforms will provide it more than 40% market share countrywide! The deal has been financially cleared by the SEBI. The CCI needs to step in and disallow the merger based on the TRAI's recommendation.

Let's hope that another crucial TRAI recommendation is not ignored by the Government machinery, once again eroding fair business practices in broadcasting.

It is excellent news that the Madras High Court has rejected Star India's plea to stay the TRAI's March 2017 Tariff and Interconnection regulations. The Supreme Court too refused a last-ditch effort by Star to stay the regulations. The final hearing has been scheduled for June 12.

Broadcasters must immediately declare their Pay channel a-la-carte prices (MRP) and bouquet prices to consumers. The regulations herald a new era of enforced transparency on broadcasters as well as rational pricing and discounts to consumers. Cable networks can finally get their fair share both as Carriage & Network Capacity fees. The times ahead look good for Cable TV revenues.