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January 2018


"The channels, whose contracts are expiring in the near future on foreign satellites, are being informed to shift to indigenous INSAT/GSAT satellites, as the required capacity is available," Minister of state, MIB Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore told the Lok Sabha.

As per the 'Norms, Guidelines and Procedures for Implementation of the Policy Framework for Satellite Communication in India', all licensed services operating in foreign satellites are to be shifted to Indian satellite as soon as indigenous capacity is available.

Broadcasters Instructed To Shift To INSAT

He added that the Network Operations Control Centre (NOCC) has intimated that currently 586 out of 877 private licensed TV Channels downlink from Foreign Satellites.

The new law means that several thousand C-Band Dish antennae at Cable TV Headends will have to be re-aligned.

The problem would be very severe if DTH platforms are also forced to migrate in future from their existing satellites to the INSAT & GSAT satellites. In March, then I&B minister Venkaiah Naidu had informed the Lok Sabha that Indian DTH platforms currently occupy 68 transponders, which ISRO has 104 Ku Band transponders.

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TRAI has issued a consultation paper 'Empanelment of Auditors for Digital Addressable Systems' seeking views of stakeholders on various audit-empanelment related issues such as scope of audit, eligibility criteria and experience, length of empanelment, audit fee and payment terms, time period for completion of audit work, deempanelment, and reporting requirements of auditors.

TRAI clarified that the empanelment of the auditors and other related activities would be done only after the ongoing matter pending before Madras and Delhi High Courts are decided.

Currently, Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL) is the sole auditor, and is primarily involved in auditing the Headend and distribution installations. they do not conduct subscription audits.

The consultation paper calls for views on the scope of technical & subscription audits, STB, CAS & SMS audits & audit fees. TRAI has also sought views on the eligibility criteria for auditors, both technically and to prevent conflict of interest.

Written Comments on the Consultation Paper have been invited from the stakeholders by 22 January and counter-comments by 7 February 2018.

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Despite more than 100 satellite TV uplinking license applications pending, the MIB has not issued a single licence in November & December 2017!

Could this be an orchestrated move by the MIB to stop issuing satellite channel licenses, under existing procedure?

The MIB has asked TRAI to recommend new norms for issue of TV licenses.

One possible option is to auction TV licenses, similar to the FM radio auctions.

TRAI has issued a consultation paper in the matter, and will issue its recommendations after reviewing the responses received.

It therefore seems unlikely that any new TV licenses will be issued before March 2018.

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Gracenote, a Nielsen company now offers a TV distribution, monitoring & reporting solution developed specifically for the India Cable TV market called TV Street Maps 2.0.

It provides Indian broadcasters with an accurate picture of TV channel distribution and delivery on Cable TV. It automates the tedious task of manual TV channel monitoring with time-stamped data across all cable operators. It helps broadcasters locate unlawful display of their channels (piracy).

The Indian Cable TV market is one of the most complex video markets in the world with TV channel line-ups varying from day to day and operator to operator. In fact, India has an estimated 1,000 Cable & DTH operators delivering linear television to 175 million households around the country. The challenge is that each operator can add, remove or change the position of channels at their discretion and without notice to broadcasters.

On average, there are approximately 300 to 350 channel line-up changes occurring every week.

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To encourage the local manufacture, the customs issued notification no. 91/2017 dt 14 Dec, doubling the import duty on Completely Built Up (CBU) STBs to 20%.

The import duty on SKD (Semi Knocked Down) and CKD (Completely Knocked Down) STB kits remains unaltered.

Most STBs currently sold in India are locally manufactured from SKD or CKD kits, and hence the new notification will not affect most locally manufactured / assembled STBs.

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The government has ignored yet another TRAI recommendation on market cap, this time for DTH and approved the merger of DishTV & Videocon.

The TRAI has recommended that to prevent emerging monopolies and ensure fair practices to consumers, the market cap of DTH platforms must be restricted to 35%.

However, the Dish TV-Videocon merger will provide the new entity and almost monopolistic 44% market share of the Indian DTH market.

The MIB has now approved the merger. The combined entity will be renamed as Dish TV Videocon Limited, and will serve 29 million active DTH consumers of a total of 65 million Indian DTH homes.

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Zee Media Corporation Ltd (ZMCL) has reentered the Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand market with the launch of Zee Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand news channel on 20 December.

ZMCL earlier had a channel for UP and Uttar Pradesh called Zee UP/ UK, however, the channel was rebranded as a national news channel India 24x7 in 2015. The same channel was later re-branded Zee Hindustan earlier this year with a focus on the rural Hindi Speaking Market.

Uplink licence from the channel was received on 22 September.

Zee Media owns and operates 13 news channels across English, Hindi, and regional language markets.

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Barely a month after creating headlines by jointly buying Reliance DTH, relatively unknown IT & communication services media company Pantel Technologies has declared that it will launch 20 new FTA satellite channels, with SAB Group companies Sri Adhikari Brothers Television Network and TV Vision.

The 20 FTA channels will span diverse genres like entertainment, kids, infotainment, mythology, movie and music channels. They hope to create India's largest Free-To-Air Satellite channel network (after DD). The platform would probably be hosted on Reliance DTH.

An OTT platform is also planned.

"We are looking at tier-2 & 3 audience. While the modalities of partnership are still being worked out, we will be rolling out channels by March next," Markand Adhikari, CMD, SAB Group, told the press.

Currently, SAB Group owns and operates 5 channels: Mastiii, Dabangg, Maiboli, Dillagi, and Dhamaal Gujarat.

Pantel Technologies sells tablet PCs under the brand Penta T-Pad across India, South East Asia, Gulf, and Africa.

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As part of its amalgamation with Dish TV, DTH company Videocon d2h will voluntarily delist its American Depositary Shares (ADS) from Nasdaq, by 3 January, 2018.

The I&B ministry has approved the DishTV - Videocon d2h merger in December 2017, despite the TRAI's recommendations against such mergers, which create platforms with more than 30% market share.

All outstanding equity shares of Videocon d2h, including equity shares underlying the ADSs, will be mandatorily exchanged for new equity shares of Dish TV.

Dish TV will be subsequently renamed Dish TV Videocon.

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"The Punjab Entertainments & Amusements Taxes (Levy & Collection by Local Bodies) Ordinance, 2017," has commenced levy of taxes on entertainment and amusements in all municipalities and panchayats of the state.

The monthly tax ₹ 5 per DTH connection and ₹ 2 per cable connection by all the urban, local bodies and gram panchayats of the state. ₹ 9.6 crore is expected from 16 lakh DTH connections & ₹ 36.96 crore from 44 lakh cable TV connections in the state.

However, no entertainment tax has been proposed on cinemas, multiplexes, amusement parks and other similar places providing facilities for entertainment and amusements.

Observers feel the nominal tax has been levied to track Fastway's cable TV business. The MSO has a near statewide monopoly, and is operated by persons said to be aligned to the earlier Akali dal government.

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In the November 2017 issue of this magazine, we had carried a report that said that Mukesh Ambani's associate companies have bought controlling stake in Prannoy & Radhika Roy's NDTV.

NDTV is now reorganising its business, and plans to focus sharply on its core English and Hindi news and digital content business, while axing its ancillary businesses.

As a result, NDTV will fire 25% of its work force, to help improve profitability.

The company has said that it wants to move to new technologies including to mobile journalism and that its reporters across the country are now using mobile phones for the fastest and most efficient delivery of breaking news.

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