February 2017


Former Times Now chief editor Arnab Goswami has teamed up with entrepreneur and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar for his TV & digital news venture "Republic". Chandrasekhar owns the Asianet News (Malyalam) & Suvarna (Kannada) as well as the Kannada Prabha newspaper.

They have floated 2 companies for the new venture: ARG Outlier Media & SARG Media Holding. Arnab's wife Samyabrata has also joined them on the board, after quitting from The Telegraph. Incidentally, the companies have been named after the initials of the husband wife duo. ARG stands for Arnab Ranjan Goswami while SARG stands for Samyabrata Ray Goswami. The two companies have been registered with RoC Mumbai. Goswami, who was based out of Mumbai during his stint with Times Now, will continue to operate from Mumbai.

An application has been made to the I&B Ministry for a new TV news channel.

"There is a reason why we have named our venture Republic. It means 'for the people' undiluted and direct to the hearts of our people. If we are true, I know you will not let down my faith in you," Goswami told the press.

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Just 2 months after Arnab Goswami quit Times Now, NDTV consulting editor Barkha Dutt has quit after 21 years with NDTV, to start her own venture.

While there is no formal announcement of her new venture, though reports are that she will join hands with former Indian Express editor Sekhar Gupta to launch a digital media venture called "The Print".

A Padma Shri awardee, Barkha tweeted "It's been a super ride at NDTV but new beginning in 2017. I shall be moving on from NDTV to explore new opportunities & my own ventures!"•

NDTV confirmed her resignation.

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On 15 January 2017, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) launched a youth-focused HD (1080i resolution) channel: Sony Rox HD. The channel includes Dolby sound.

It is priced at Rs. 25 on Reference Interconnection Offer (RIO) basis. The total HD subscriber base in the country is estimated to be 9 million and growing, according to Neeraj Vyas, Senior EVP & Business Head.

When questioned on the growing trend of music videos being consumed via the internet (OTT), Vyas explained "It's going to take time (in India). In the west, in spite of good penetration of Internet and that too at a high speed, television still was a growing phenomenon.

While Hindi music channel Sony Mix is marketed as a mass music channel, Rox HD is positioned as a youth (15 to 21 year olds) oriented premium music channel.

There are no plans to launch a HD version of Sony Mix as it often carries retro music videos, which are not available in HD format.

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The I&B Ministry of Information & Broadcasting ( MIB) has granted one teleport licence each, to Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) and Planetcast Media Services (formerly Essel Shyam Communication). Both new teleport will be in Mumbai. ZEEL's teleport will uplink its own channels, which were earlier uplinked by DishTV. After Subhash Chandra divided assets and companies between brothers, DishTV is owned by Jawhar Goel while Chandra has retained ZEEL.

Besides the 2 new licences it received this year, Planetcast already had 3 teleports, 2 in Noida and 1 in Kerala.

To date, the government has granted 83 teleport licences.

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The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the sale of TEN Sports owned by ZEEL, to Sony Pictures Networks India for $385 million (approx. Rs. 2,690 Crores).

This paves the way for India becoming a duopoly sports broadcasting market. Starved of cash, Neo Sports is a fringe player.

Ten Sports network is currently held by 2 subsidiaries of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL): Taj Television Ltd, Mauritius, and Taj Television (India) Pvt. Ltd.

Taj Mauritius is engaged in broadcast and distribution of television channels across different parts of the world such as Pakistan, the Middle East, Caribbean, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. It also syndicates television content to third parties across all media platforms in several countries. Taj Mauritius functions through its agent Taj India in India.

Sony Pictures Networks India is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation, which owns and operates the Sony Entertainment network of channels.

The TEN Sports purchase will provide SPNI the following TV channels: Ten 1, Ten 1 HD, Ten 2, Ten 3 and Ten Golf HD in India besides Ten Cricket and Ten Sports in the Maldives, Singapore, Hong Kong, Middle East and the Caribbean.

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The Haridwar district administration has slapped a notice on yoga guru Ramdev's Patanjali Yogpeeth asking it to pay Rs. 6.83 lakh as entertainment tax and a penalty of Rs. 20,000 towards evading it.

According to reports, an inspection conducted in December 2016 at Patanjali Yogpeeth Phase-I and II located on the Haridwar-New Delhi national highway & the Yoga Gram located at Aurangabad village. These are lodging facilities for visitors. The entertainment tax survey indicated that a total of 1,139 cable TV connections were in use & control rooms had been operational by the management without permission. "It is clear violation of rule-3 of Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act and other laws," according to the notice, demanding the payment and penalty.

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It was not very long ago that TataSky faced a channel capacity crunch, due to lack of transponders. The DTH platform then migrated from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4.

Today TataSky claims to deliver the largest channel count to its subscribers: 600 TV channels.

As on December 2016, Tata Sky offered a choice of 483 SD + 76 HD channels, which is the highest offered by any Indian DTH platform. In addition, it also offers a bouquet of 31 VAS, 15 special SD and HD movie platforms, nine exclusive +1 channel feeds. In comparison, Dish TV offers 585 channels and services, including 50 HD channels.

Videocon d2h offers 570 channels and services, including 45 HD channels.

Airtel Digital TV offers 520 channels, including 51 HD channels, end September 2016.

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The I&B ministry issued 71 DAS MSO licenses in December 2016. Eight of these are All India licences including Bhopal based Hathway Datacom Central, Rajesh Fun Square, Superhits Digital Technologies, Ozone Media Comm, Aeon Communication, Juber Cable Network, Nucast Media & Garvit Digital Services.

DEN Networks' indirectly wholly owned subsidiary DEN ABC Cable Network Ambarnath has also received provisional registration for Thane, Raigad and other districts in Maharashtra under DAS Phases III and IV.

GTPL DCPL, a 51:49 JV between GTPL Hathway and Darsh Communication, has also received provisional registration for the states of Bihar and Jharkhand.

As on 4 Jan 2017, a total of 1130 DAS licenses have been issued.

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Star India will launch Maa Movies HD on 15 Feb 2017. It is the High Definition version of its existing channel Maa Movies.

Maa Movies HD, will be priced at Rs. 25 on Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO), is likely to launch on 15 February.

With this launch, Star India will have a bouquet of 27 HD channels, including 7 regional HD channels, in Bengali, Tamil, Telugu & Marathi. All these regional HD channels are priced at Rs. 25 per month on RIO.

In December 2015, Star India acquired the broadcast business of Maa Television Network comprising 4 Telugu entertainment channels: Maa TV, Maa Movies, Maa Gold & Maa Music; for $346 million.

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Nepal Digital Cable (NDC) have booked multiple Ku band transponders on the ABS-2 satellite located at 75 degrees East.

NDC plans to launch a 170+ Channel DTH platform for Nepal & neighbouring South Asian countries. Transmissions are to commence as early as February 2017.

"Our subscribers will enjoy more than 170 high quality channels, including around 50 High Definition (HD), as well as 3 Ultra High Definition (UHD or 4K) channels, the first in Nepal. Customers can also look forward to a very attractive package from NDC. Our goal is not to meet the competition but go way beyond it and set a new milestone in the Nepalese pay-tv Industry," said Laxmi Prasad Paudyal, Managing Director of NDC.

ABS-2 was launched in 2014 as one of the most powerful satellites in the Eastern Hemisphere with 89 DTH transponders.

"Nepal will be the new addition to our existing DTH platforms in Indonesia, Russia/CIS, South Asia, Bangladesh and Africa," said Tom Choi, CEO of ABS. "We are eager to facilitate regional broadcasters with our prime broadcasting orbital slots of 75E, 159E and 3W, where our newly launched satellites for video broadcasting are strategically located."

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"In Kolkata we will soon start a pilot project for underground laying of cable TV lines," West Bengal urban development minister Firhad Hakim said at the inauguration of 'Cable TV Show 2017'. Underground cabling has been done in New Town and work will start soon in Bidhannagar.

Hakim said that the move is part of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's beautification plan for the city. The underground laying of wire would also give jobs to many unemployed youth in the city, he added.

CTMA secretary KK Binani said the move will improve the reliability of service, an eliminate disruptions due to cyclones, felling of trees, etc.

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