This month, the curtain falls on Analog Cable TV, in India. The entire country is to shift to digital CATV from April. Can this genuinely be achieved? It has taken more than 3 years, to install 70 million Cable TV STBs, to date. Compulsory digitisation in DAS..........
INTEROPERABLE DTH STBS
Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore confirmed to Parliament that the TRAI had on 23 July 2014 recommended replacement of license condition at clause 7.1 of the existing DTH guidelines. The new clause stipulates "The Open Architecture (Non-proprietary) Set Top Box (STB), which will ensure technical compatibility and effective interoperability among different DTH service providers shall have such specifications as laid down by the Government from time to time."
Further, the TRAI in its recommendations on "Issues relating to New DTH Licenses" wanted the clause to read "The STB offered by a DTH service provider shall have such specifications as laid down by the BIS from time to time."
TRAI further recommended that BIS should come out with updated specifications for STBs from time to time and while doing so, BIS shall consult TRAI and that the license conditions should mandate the licensee to comply with the tariff order/scheme prescribed by TRAI for commercial interoperability.
As reported in mid-December 2016, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) had failed to come out with specifications with regard to interoperability of STBs meant for DTH platforms.
Rathore said the ministry had accepted recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that it should work with the BIS and the Department of Electronics and IT to ensure such set-top boxes.
65.5 CR IN FREEDISH AUCTION
Doordarshan's free FreeDish platform continues to rake in the money, while it remains Unencrypted.
At the Feb 15 auction, FreeDish raked in another Rs. 65.5 crore from the sale of 10 slots. The highest bid was for Rs. 7.3 crore. The reserve price was hiked to Rs. 4.8 crore. 18 broadcasters participated.
10 channels won slots. The 7 new entrants were Sony Pal, Rishtey, Manoranjan Movies, MTV Beats, Dhamaal, Star Utsav Movies and Movie House.
The 3 new entrants were Mubu, ETV UP & ETV Rajasthan.
With this, FreeDish has already earned Rs. 250 crore this fiscal, DD DG Supriya Sahu said.
In the previous e-auction, DD had raised Rs. 129.3 crore from auction of 27 slots including 24 renewals and 3 new additions.
MEDIA COMM POLICY
A Media Communication Policy is under formulation by the I&B Ministry. Its aim is to promote national dialogue on development issues by all citizens; and ensure timely, orderly and effective growth & dissemination of Government information. I&B minister for state conveyed this to the Parliament.
This was decided in the State Information Ministers' Conference (SIMCON) held on 9 and 10 December 2016, as the policy will be finalised in consultation with States.
PAK COURT ALLOWS INDIAN CHANNELS
The Lahore High Court chief justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah has permitted private television channels to show Indian movies.
This overturns Pakistani regulator's October 2016 order, that banned Pakistani private channels from airing the Indian content.
The interim order was on a petition filed by Leo Communication challenging the ban, since clause 7.2 (ii) of the "License to Establish & Operate Satellite TV Broadcast Channel Station" permitted this.
Petitioner's counsel Taffazul Rizvi argued that not only Indian movies, but also TV serials must be allowed, since they also can be defined as "entertainment" under the licence agreement. The PEMRA law officer has sought time to establish if TV serials and plays could be excluded from "entertainment."
Justice Shah observed that Indian movies were allowed in cinema houses, and therefore could not be banned on TV.
NO TO CORPORATISE AIR & DD
The government is not considering any proposal to make Doordarshan and All India Radio as separate corporate entities, the Parliament was told.
The 2 organisations are being professionalised in accordance with the recommendations of the Sam Pitroda Committee submitted 3 years ago.
A panel of secretaries had been set up to examine the report and suggest other ways to modernise the organisations. Its report is awaited.
Prasar Bharati was established as an autonomous corporation on 23 November 1997 under the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act 1990. The Act provided full functional autonomy to Prasar Bharati.
TATA SKY NOTICE TO 29 CHANNELS
Issuing a public notice on Feb 15, Tata Sky has threatened to discontinue 29 TV channels for "breach of contract." Exact details of the breach were not specified, but it probably pertains to nonpayment of carriage fees.
The channels that have been given the 3 week notice 9as required by law) are: iTV Network's India News, India News Haryana, India News MP CG, India News UP UK, India News Rajasthan, News X, and News X HD, F7 Broadcast's News World India and News World Odisha, and 9X Media's 9XO.
It also includes Tamil channels Adhytam TV, Vendhar TV, and Puthiya Thalaimurai, as well as Gujarati spiritual channel Soham.
Other channels include Dangal, Enterr10, Fakt Marathi, Jai Maharashtra, Protidin Time, Prameya News 7, HM TV, National Voice UP UK, IBC 24, Maharashtra 1, News BTV, Satsang, Jonack, Jeevan TV & Darshana TV.
DAS-3 SHUT OFF ENFORCED
The I&B ministry has written to authorised officers in states and union territories to initiate action against any MSO or LCO found carrying analog signals in Digital Addressable System (DAS) Phase III areas.
The switch-off deadline for DAS Phase III areas was 31 January 2017.
In the 20th DAS task force meeting on 18 January, MIB advisor (DAS) Yogendra Pal said that according to data entered by the registered operators in the MIS, digitisation in Phase III areas had been nearly 100%.
However, the data was obviously not verified, since I&B ministry additional secretary Jayashree Mukherjee who chaired the meeting said she had visited a big MSO in Hyderabad who had stated that he had seeded 1.7 million STBs whereas the Ministry's website shows that he had seeded only 100,000 STBs. State Nodal Officers have been asked to investigate these discrepancies.
Broadcasters have also been told to ensure that they do not have any agreements with analog Cable TV networks, beyond end January 2017. Broadcasters have also been asked to monitor & ensure that no DAS-3 MSOs carry analog signals.
18% GST FOR CABLE & DTH?
The Revenue Department has prepared draft recommendations for GST rates on services. According to the draft, GST on DTH, telecom, The Revenue Department has prepared draft recommendations for GST rates on services. According to the draft, GST on DTH, telecom,banking, financial services, aviation & restaurant dining is proposed to be pegged at 18%.
Cable TV will almost certainly be pegged the same rate as DTH.
Education & healthcare are the only major sectors which will see lower service tax rate of 12%.
Construction of affordable housing will be at 12%.
Essential goods will not form a part of GST.
Implementation of GST in July 2017, will create a system of "One Country, One Tax, One Market".
Since GST credit/refund is given for all transactions prior to the final sales, manufacturing states do not gain much revenue. The GST main revenue will be reaped by the state were the final goods or services are consumed.
MSOS JOIN TARIFF CASE: MADRAS HC
The All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) has impleaded itself in Star India's Madras High Court case, challenging the TRAI's proposed new tariff regulation.
The MSOs also want their point of view heard by the court.
Videocon d2h has also impeded itself in the same case.
FREEDISH AUCTION PRICE HIKED
With an increasing number of FTA channels wanting to join Doordarshan's FreeDish platform, the minimum auction price per channel, for 1 year's carriage has been hiked to Rs. 4.8 crore from Rs. 4.3 crore, for its 32nd e-auction on 14 February.
At the 31st auction, the highest bid was for Rs. 5.1 Crore and an average price of Rs. 4.8 Crore.
FREEDISH ENCRYPTED STBS IN APRIL?
Doordarshan seems to be going ahead with its plan to encrypting its new MPEG-4 channels, even though the content will only be FTA channels. The move to encrypt is apparently driven with the sole purpose of keeping a tab on the number of receivers deployed in the field. There are no plans to collect any pay channel charges, by FreeDish. iCAS will be the encryption system.
"We will roll out encrypted STBs in April. The OEMs are under evaluation," DD director general Supriya Sahu said. "The MPEG 4 STBs will have 24 channels. We will add capacity in phases," she added.
The authorised OEMs will sell Doordarshan-approved CAS and firmware/ middleware-enabled STBs.
The long-term goal is for FreeDish to offer 250 channels via MPEG-4 STBs. Additional transponders will be required for this.
Currently FreeDish has 6 Ku band transponders. It provides 80 MPEG-2 TV channels and 30 radio stations. 24 MPEG-4 TV channels + 10 radio stations will initially be added on MPEG-4 STBs.
Industry pundits are sceptical of the success of proprietary, encrypted STBs. Will the move kill the FreeDish goose that lays golden eggs, via huge carriage fees for Doordarshan?
RAJIV SINGH: NEW PB ACTING CEO
On 6 February 2017, Rajiv Singh - Member (Finance) took over as the acting CEO of in Prasar Bharati.
Suresh Panda, Member (Personnel), who was the acting CEO retired a day earlier.
VIACOM18: CINEPLEX HD SOON
Viacom18 plans to launch the high-definition (HD) version of its Hindi movie channel Rishtey Cineplex. The HD channel will however carry a new name - Cineplex HD.
Plan for a 4 March launch, the RIO price of the channel will be Rs. 25. However, it will be offered free till end March 2017.
Incidentally, the standard definition version - Rishtey Cineplex is a pay channel, but is also available free on Doordarshan's FreeDish platform.
Viacom18 has also declared plans to MTV HD+. As the name suggests, it will be the HD version of MTV. Plans are to peg it at Rs. 25.