September 2019



On 28 August 2019, the Government has announced that it will permit 26% FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in Digtial Media.

However, prior permission will be required from the government.

With prior approval, 26% FDI is already permitted in Print Media & Broadcast Content Services.

According to a FICCI-EY Report, Digital Media in India grew by 42% in 2018, to $2.4 billion.

Digital Media is expected to exceed film entertainment in 2019 & print by 2021 to reach $3.2 billion in 2019.


Airtel DTH plans to launch an Android STB that will deliver both - DTH & OTT Services to Airtel subscribers.

Bharti Airtel MD and CEO Gopal Vittal explained during the Q1 earnings conference call "One of the things we are looking at is to bring in a box, which will kind of offer a full converged entertainment as well as the capacity to deliver broadband. This will happen soon, and we are very excited that once we do that, then it is a full converged play that we can potentially deliver across multiple spaces."

He also said that the DTH business is self-funding and adding subscribers at a healthy pace. "We are committing as much capital as that business needs. After recent changes in the regulatory framework, we have been able to pick up almost 630,000 customers net additions in last quarter, which is a very, very big increase, a lot of it coming from the cable side," he stated.


Hathway Broadband has announced a new 100Mbps plans in select cities. Priced at ₹ 699 per month, customers get 100Mbps speeds with 1TB data FUP (Fair usage policy) beyond which speeds go down to 3Mbps. The plan is available for a minimum 3-month subscription.

Hathway has also announced a limited-period offer for its Play Box Android TV streaming device. For ₹ 899 customers can get the device along with free subscriptions to popular video streaming services worth ₹ 2,500 which include 3 months Netflix, 2 months of Zee5 and YuppTV, and 1 year of Sun NXT. The Play Box was earlier priced at ₹ 2,999.

ACT Fibernet also recently launched its own streaming device: ACT Stream TV 4K.


Three has become the latest carrier to launch a 5G network, currently limited to home broadband in London. Three plans to have 5G available in 25 towns and cities by the end of 2019.

Three's 5G router can support up to 64 devices.

Vodafone launched its 5G network a week earlier & EE has been operational for some months.


China Mobile has partnered with telecoms vendor ZTE to deliver China's first 5G broadcast of a live sporting event, in UHD (Ultra High Definition) TV.

The 2nd National Youth Games of China in Shanxi were broadcast using ZTE's Digital Intelligent Indoor System 5G QCell solution to cover multiple venues, including the main stadium. The feed included multi-angle views, flexible zooming and free viewpoint.

The number of 5G broadcast trials around the world has been growing. In China itself, the Academy of Broadcasting Science (ABS) and China Broadcasting Network Co. Ltd. (CBN) have announced plans to set up a 5G broadcast trial in Beijing.

Both groups, under the Chinese National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA), will set up 3 stations operating in a Single High Frequency, using transmitters provided by Rohde and Schwarz.

CBN was granted a commercial 5G license for 50 MHz bandwidth at 4.9GHz, with a trial of FeMBMS (Further evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service) identified as the next logical step by NRTA.

Rohde & Schwarz has already set up the 5G Today project in Bavaria that has been on-air since December 2018.


Sun TV Network will invest ₹ 150 crore on its Over The Top (OTT) platform Sun NXT, Group CFO - SL Narayanan told the press. Sun NXT has already started making money & subscription revenue has stabilised.

Sun TV Network had earlier revealed that Sun NXT has crossed 1 million paid subscribers and is earning an estimated ₹ 60 crore per year.

Youth-oriented content will soon be added on Sun NXT, and the platform will retain its South regional flavour. The OTT platform has also proved popular in the international market, amongst NRIs, "So there would be some programming which will also be oriented to serve that segment as well," Narayanan added.

Narayanan explained the company's 2 step strategy. Phase 1 was to included SUN TV channel live of OTT aggregator platforms. The second phase is to place Sun NXT on these platforms.

The OTT market is estimated to be approaching 450 million smartphones, of which Sun expects at least 25% will be in South Indian.


Singtel is likely to raise its stake in Bharti Telecom, the single largest shareholder in Bharti Airtel to beyond 50%. The move will convert the holding company into a foreign-owned entity. As a result, overseas ownership in the mobile operator will exceed 85%.

Singtel currently owns 48% in Bharti Airtel, which has applied for 100% FDI allow investments by Foreign Institutional Investors (FII) and foreign portfolio investors. Existing rules allow 49% foreign investment under the automatic route, and anything between 50% and 100% needs to be cleared by the government.


According to press reports, Balaji Telefilms Group CEO Sunil Lulla has quit, barely a year after joining the organization.

At Balaji, Lulla was responsible for TV & feature film content, OTT service ALT Balaji and other allied services.

Prior to Balaji, Lulla was Chairman and Managing Director Grey Group India. Lulla was also MD & CEO at Times Television Network. He has earlier worked at MTV also.

Lulla will be starting his own, new venture The Linus Adventures. "The Linus Adventures is about growing businesses, building brands and enabling cultures, engaging with promoters and CXOs, directly in the consumer, digital and content domain.," Lulla explained.


Hotstar, Star India's OTT platform, has withdrawn as an associate sponsor of the Indian Premier League (IPL). There was an exit clause in the deal and Hotstar chose to exercise it. The deal was worth ₹ 42 crores per year.

The move will however have no bearing on Hotstar's digital streaming rights to the IPL.

Star India had bought 5 years of IPL media rights for television and digital in 2017 for 16347.5 crores. Its sports rights expenses have dragged its profitability down, and this is probably a move to cut sports expenses.


Paytm will offer content, news, short videos and live television from September with an aim to increase its monthly active user base to 250 million.

Paytm senior vice-president Deepak Abbot told the press, "We are already seeing 27 million monthly active users on Paytm Inbox. Now that we are upgrading it to the next level with innovative use of content, we hope to get around 60-70 million new users."

"We have also undertaken deals with smartphone manufacturers like Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi where users will get the Paytm application in-built. Since 55-60% of them are first-time smartphone users we are hoping to capture that section of the market once they get the app," Abbot added.


The Karnataka High Court held that films, serials and other multimedia contents transmitted, broadcast or exhibited through internet & ott platforms like Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Netflix and Alt Digital, cannot be regulated under the Cinematograph Act, 1952. The court's order rejected a plea in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by a Bengaluru resident Padmanabh Shankar.

The division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Mohammad Nawaz said that he act of exhibition of films, serials and other content amounts to transfer of files based on requests by users as per the concept of internet and its operation. Hence, transfer of files or films, serials through the internet cannot come under the purview of Cinematograph Act.

However, the bench said that it hopes that the union government will find a solution in public interest regulating online streaming platforms.


In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Department of Telecom (DoT) confirmed that a total of ₹ 92,641.61 crore license fee is due and unpaid by mobile phone operators:

Airtel ₹ 21,682.13 crore

Vodafone ₹ 19,823.71 crore

Reliance Comm ₹ 16,456.47 crore

BSNL ₹ 2,098.72 crore

MTNL ₹ 2,537.48 crore

The case has been pending in courts for years. In 2016 a license fee of ₹ 29,474 crore was payable, and has ballooned to ₹ 92,641 Crores. Telcos are required to pay 8% of their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) as annual License Fee. The

Telcos contend that AGR should not include interest income, dividend income, value of rebate, discounts, free calls, etc as these activities do not require a DoT license. The TDSAT ruled in favour of the telcos. The govt then appealed in the Supreme Court.


Walmart's Flipkart has declared its plans to launch a free video streaming service, to counter Amazon Prime's paid video streaming. The service will launch in September, with the commencement of the Indian festive season. It will be part of its Flipkart Plus loyalty program which requires a minimum purchase of ₹ 15,000.

Flipkart will not initially create its own content but will license it from Walt Disney, Balaji Telefilms, & others.

Walmart paid $16 billion for 77% stake in Flipkart and later has increased its stake to 81.2%.


The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) commenced consultations with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) & the Department of Space to free up spectrum in the 3,300 MHz to 3,600 MHz band for 5G spectrum auctions, expected this year end. Currently, 25 MHz of this spectrum is reserved by ISRO & 40 MHz is idle MoD. This blocks 22% of the total 300 MHz airwaves available in this band. 5G telcos want a continuous band of frequencies for optimum utilisation.

TRAI has recommended a pan-Indian base price of ₹ 492 crore per MHz for 5G radio waves. Airwaves in the 3,300-3,600 MHz 5G band will be auctioned in blocks of 20 MHz.


Cisco has announced plans to roll out free highspeed public Wi-Fi zones across India with Google's gStation platform.

There are over 800 million Indians who still are not online.

First phase of the project has commenced implementation. By September 2019, 200 locations in Bengaluru will be Wi-Fi enabled, followed by another 300 by in the second phase. The Locations include public spaces like bus stops, hospitals, government offices, etc.

According to a TRAI report, globally there is 1 Wi-Fi hotspot for every 150 people, and in India, 8 million additional hotspots must be installed to achieve the same ratio, creating new market opportunities for infrastructure providers and internet service providers. India has only 52,000 Wi-Fi hotspots today.


Comcast - USA's largest MSO has launched a $ 10 per month broadband plan "Internet Essentials" for the economically disadvantaged and other groups who need a helping hand. It has connected some two million households so far and has relaxed the plan to include even more individuals. The new qualifiers are: Persons with disabilities, Seniors on Medicaid & Lowincome adults (38% above the poverty line).


ACT Fibernet, India's first fiber-focused wired broadband ISP to offer up to 1 Gbps connectivity, has launched its ACT Stream TV 4K STB in Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Chennai.

The broadband STB supports Dolby sound & 4K video from on-demand streaming providers like Netflix, Amazon and app based OTT platforms.

Powered by Android 9 Pie, the STB is priced at ₹ 4499, and as a special launch offer the device will be available at a refundable deposit of ₹ 1500 on select plans. It is bundled with complimentary ZEE5 for 1 month, 2 months subscription of Hooq & access to premium Live TV channels until 31st of December 2019.

Customers can subscribe to premium content from existing OTT streaming partners and channels and pay for their subscription directly as part of the ACT Fibernet monthly bill. n