September 2019

International News



CBS Corp and Viacom Inc have agreed, in principle, to merge with Viacom shareholders receiving 0.59625 CBS shares. The CBS Viacom saga has had many twists & turns. A brief summary:

December 1999: Sumner Redstone buys CBS for $48 billion & merges it with his own Viacom, the parent company of MTV and Nickelodeon.

January 2006: Viacom & CBS split.

May 2015: Press stories on Sumner's declining physical and mental health & the role of his girlfriend Sydney Holland and a former girlfriend, Manuela Herzer. Herzer sues Redstone, seeking to be reinstated as his healthcare guardian and questioning Redstone's mental capacity. Claims Redstone is obcessed with steak & daily sex.

February 2016, 93 year old Sumner Redstone steps down as chairman of CBS and Viacom. Shari Redstone withdraws her CBS-Viacom merger proposal after CBS Chief Les Moonves demands control over the family's voting stock & refuses to pay a premium for Viacom.

May 2018, CBS sues Shari Redstone, accusing her of a merger unfavorable to CBS. In July 2018, Leslie Moonves, accused of sexual misconduct, & resigns.

August 2019, CBS and Viacom announce a merger creating a $30 billion media giant, with Viacom CEO Bob Bakish heading the combined company and Shari Redstone as chairperson.


Pakistan's opposition parties have accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of intimidating broadcasters into a blackout on television coverage of his critics, after several TV channels were briefly taken off-air and opposition protests and news conferences passed unreported. A news conference by opposition leader Maryam Nawaz, which would normally be carried live on TV news stations, went unseen as broadcasters held back from coverage. It was carried on YouTube instead.

Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Information & Broadcasting, denied censoring the media, describing such accusations as 'a joke' during a visit to Washington in August, but relations with the press & broadcasters have become increasingly strained since he took office nearly a year ago.

Khan's government dismisses the criticism and says it is dealing with the consequences of abuses by past administrations. The ruling party has posted a series of tweets warning media houses & journalists that they should not "end up propagating (the) enemy's stance," by criticising the government.


Turkey's Radio & Television S u p r e m e C o u n c i l (RTUK) and Information & Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) have prepared n e w b y l a w s , building on legislation from March 2018 to regulate online radio, television & on-demand broadcasting. Under the new rules, broadcasters will be required to obtain a license from the RTUK.

The new bylaws enable Turkish authorities to regulate digital media platforms including Netflix.

Broadcasters may be required to facilitate parental control over content threatening to "harm the physical, mental and moral development of children and young adults."


Russia's pay-TV market grew by its lowest rate in 2 years in Q-2 2019.

According to research by IAA TelecomDaily, the number of subscribers in 3 months to June 30 increased by only 80,000 to a total of 43,605,000. In comparison, 150,000 were added in Q-1.

Pay-TV penetration in Q2 remained at just over 78%, while monthly ARPU was 180 Ruble (US$ 2.71).

During Q-2, the market leader Tricolor added only 4,000 new customers, while MTS gained 66,000, mainly due to the growth of its DTH service.

Significantly, the IPTV sector experienced the most stagnation, while DTH grew.

Tricolor claimed a 28% share of the pay-TV market, folowed by Rostelecom (24%), ER Telecom (9%), MTS (8%), Orion (7%) and others (24%).


CBS, NBCUniversal, Fox & Disney have sued Locast - a non-profit group that streams FTA terrestrial TV channels over the internet for free without permission.

In the USA, FTA terrestrial TV channels charge MSOs & DTH platforms a carriage fee to distribute their content. By giving viewers that content for free, Locast, is threatening these fees.

Some years ago, Chet Kanojia launched Aereo Inc, a similar service, but charged $80 per year for the service. The Supreme Court had ruled against Aereo, since it was a commercial service.

Locast does not charge consumers anything and hopes to carry forward based on the court's sole objection to Aereo.

Broadcasters claim that Locast has indirect commercial interests. "Locast's founding, funding, and operations reveal its decidedly commercial purposes." The broadcasters claim Locast has been created to force a reduction of carriage fees the broadcasters charge for their FTA channels.

Dish DTH said "We continue to believe consumers deserve a choice when it comes to how they receive their local broadcast channels, whether through DTH, over-the-air antennas or through other legal means."


FCC - the US regulator has immediately ordered cities and towns throughout to stop levying local fees & regulating broadband delivered over cable networks.

The Order prohibits extreme franchise charges and explains that local governments cannot regulate non-cable providers, and broadband services provided over a cable system.

The FCC motion was spurred partly by an Oregon state court that upheld a 7% 'telecommunications license charge' the town of Eugene imposed on Comcast.

US cable regulation allow local authorities to charge upto 5% of a cable operator's gross income on Cable TV services. n