April 2017


The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, which also examines issues relating to MIB has pulled up the I&B ministry for not fully utilising its allocated annual budgets, while simultaneously complaining of lack of funds.

It pointed out that in 2016- 17, the MIB expenditure was only Rs. 539.04 billion till 6 February 2017 as against the revised estimates of Rs. 860 billion.

The committee further pointed out that the Ministry is unable to utilise its budgetary allocations, but cited lack of funds as reason for slow pace of implementation of the Plan schemes.

The MIB needs to "Make earnest efforts to bring improvement in their overall performance and ensure full utilization of funds provided for various schemes" the committee said.

Budget 2017-18 has allocated Rs. 440.9 billion to the MIB, an increase of 5.96%.

With the abolition of plan and non-plan classification from financial year 2017-18, the allocation has been made under revenue and capital section, which is further classified into 3 categories:

(a) Establishment Expenditure

(b) Sector Schemes &

(c) Other Central Expenditure, including those in central public sector enterprises and autonomous bodies.

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In a public notice in the Times of India Mumbai edition on 15th March, B4U Movies has declared that it will become a Free- To-Air channel from 15th April.

The public notice states: This is to inform the consumers/public that the Channel "B4U Movies" is converting from a pay channel to a Free to Air Channel effective 15th April 2017."

This is one of the first channels that has declared turning FTA since the TRAI declared its revised Pay TV tariff regulations on 3rd March, 2017.

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I&B minister of state informed Parliament that the DD National channel's gross viewership in 2016 was 172 million per week as compared to 133 million per week in 2015 and 155 million per week in 2014. The computation had been done under the New Consumer Classification System (NCCS).

Being a public service broadcaster, the minister explained that Doordarshan cannot be guided purely by Commercial motive & to produce high TRP ratings.

According to Section 12 of the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act 1990, the primary duty of the Corporation is to organise and conduct public broadcasting services to inform, educate and entertain the public.

He said that DD telecasts a variety of programmes for viewers in rural areas through its entire network of 23 Satellite channels (24X7) including six National, one International, and 16 RLSS (Regional Language Satellite Services) channels.

Apart from this, Doordarshan has launched DD Kisan Channel to meet the special requirement of farmers and viewers in rural areas.

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An advisory has been issued to TV channels that ads must not interfere with programmes.

I&B minister Venkaiah Naidu said the government will take strict action against TV channels that do not adhere to the Programme and Advertisement Code, and interfere with TV programmes.

The minister told the Lok Sabha that 15 advisories and directives were issued since 2012, including the latest on 10 March, which said, "All channels are advised to follow the provisions contained in rule 7(10) of the Advertising Code scrupulously."

"All advertisement should be clearly distinguishable from the programme and should not in any manner interfere with the programme viz, use of lower part of the screen to carry captions, static or moving alongside the programme," according to rule 7 (10).

The MIB issued show cause notices in 33 cases of Programme and Advertisement Code violations by private channels in the last 2 years, Naidu said.

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The Department of Justice is working with the human resource development & I&B ministries to create a pool of shorts and documentaries to increase awareness about legal literacy.

There is no plan to launch a separate television channel for this purpose, the MIB has clarified.

The MIB has not been approached by the law ministry for any separate channel. A Doordarshan source also confirmed that it had informed the department of justice that films on legal literacy were being regularly telecast on its national, news and regional channels.

The aim of the department of justice is to increase legal empowerment of the marginalised communities through increased awareness amongst the people about their rights and entitlements. This will be done via short films on Doordarshan's existing channels.

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As on 28 February 2017, applications of a total of 112 channels have been awaiting clearance, some of them since October 2010. this was confirmed in parliament by the MIB minister for state. The government has no plan to place a ceiling on the number of TV channels, he added.

Earlier the government has said that 1500 TV channels were targeted in the 12th plan: 2012- 17. Hence the government should have created the necessary regulatory infrastructure for 1,500 channels, and it does seem surprising that some licenses have been pending for more than 6 years!

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Within 6 months of its policy change, Doordarshan has almost doubled its viewership TRPs after telecast of new Bollywood movies like Dirty Picture, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Gangs of Wasseypur, Neerja, Dum Laga ke Haisha, Kill Dil and Krish-3.

TRPs for the Sunday movie slot spurted 187%. The Friday movie slot too saw a jump of 93% in viewership. TRPs for the Saturday slot rose 47%.

Doordarshan DG Supriya Sahu said, "These figures clearly indicate that we can and are reclaiming lost ground. By airing good cinema, we are giving a tough time to our competitors and gaining viewers."

Also noteworthy is that the movies are telecast on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the 9 p.m. prime time slot from the earlier schedule of 10 p.m.

With Doordarshan claiming to have a reach of more than 90 percent of the Indian population through a network of more than 1416 terrestrial transmitters, FreeDish and compulsory carriage of its channels by Cable TV, HITS & DTH platforms, it seems on t he path of increasing TRPs and revenues.

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The MIB issued 4 new TV channel licences in February 2017. The licences have been given to three companies -MSM Worldwide Factual Media, AETN18 Media and Shreya Broadcasting. The company currently operates factual entertainment channel History TV18 and lifestyle channel FYI TV18.

MSM Worldwide Factual Media, a 74:26 JV between Sony Pictures Networks India and BBC Worldwide, has got licences for Sony BBC Earth and Sony BBC Earth HD.

AETN18 Media, a 51:49 JV between TV18 and A+E Networks, has got a licence for History TV18 HD.

Shreya Broadcasting, which operates Telugu news channel TV5 News, received a non-news licence for Hindu Dharmam.

As on 28 February 2017, there were 892 licensed private satellite TV channels. These include 391 news and current affairs channels and 501 nonnews channels.

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