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November 2017


In its August 2017 verdict, the Supreme Court has disallowed Doordarshan from sharing with Cable TV & DTH networks, the Sports feeds of 'Sports Events of National Importance' it receives from private sports broadcasters.

This sports content can only be carried on Doordarshan's terrestrial network and on DD FreeDish.

To implement the Supreme Court's directives, DD has taken the following action immediately, starting with the U17 FIFA World Cup.

 The Sports Content will be removed from the DD National Channel and shifted to DD Sports.

 The DD Sports channel will carry 2 different feeds:

i. On DD Terrestrial & FreeDish, the DD Sports Channel will carry the sports content from private broadcasters

ii. The DD Sports Feed downlinked via CBand for retransmission by Cable TV networks will not carry the sports content compulsorily shared by private broadcasters.

The Sports content of national importance includes all official one-day international, Twenty20 and test matches played by the Indian men's cricket team, semi-finals and finals of the men's World Cup and ICC Championship Trophy, the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, Summer and Special Olympics, Paralympics and certain tennis, hockey and football events.

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According to a press report, TRAI has commenced pilot testing of interoperable STBs that will allow subscribers to use the same STBs between various service providers.

"Set-top box interoperability is being tested for the first time. Nowhere in the world has it been achieved. There are 15 entities that have come for the pilot. Architecture is in place; the prototype design is ready. We will come out with test results within 8 to 10 weeks," according to the report.

This comes a year-and-a-half after the regulator first released a pre-consultation paper to identify issues related to interoperability of set-top boxes and its possible solutions. In May 2016, TRAI also engaged 12 technical experts (with the Centre for Development of Telematics, or C-DOT, as its nodal partner) to look into the challenges involved in the interoperability architecture.

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Unconfirmed reports state that the Tata Group is in talks to acquire Bharti Airtel's DTH business. Tata Sky and Airtel DTH have a market share of 23% & 21% respectively. The combined entity would become India's largest DTH platform, with a market share of 44%. Incidentally, this exceeds the TRAI's cap on Market share for DTH platforms. The same market cap was also exceeded by Videocon d2h merger with Dish TV, but there was no action by the government to stall the earlier merger, which has practically concluded.

According to CNBC TV18, the talks have entered due diligence stage and would take at least a couple of months before being finalised.

Tata Sky reported a net profit of ₹ 80 crore and operating income of ₹ 4472 crore in fiscal 2016, against ₹ 267 crore & ₹ 3723 crore respectively, for fiscal 2015.

In FY17, Airtel Digital TV had reported gross revenue of ₹ 3430.6 crore with an EBIT of ₹ 357.7 crore compared to gross revenue of ₹ 2917.8 crore and EBIT of ₹ 184.3 crore in the year ago period.

The Indian DTH market has 61.2 million subscribers with Dish TV being the largest player with 25% market share.

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The TRAI report says there were 65.31 million active Pay DTH subscribers in India, as on 30 June 2017.

TRAI has stopped reporting the total DTH universe, which also includes the inactive subscriber base. On last count, there were approximately as many inactive as active pay DTH STBs in India.

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The MIB's earnings from the licence fee paid by all private DTH operators has fallen 17.71% to ₹ 879.38 crore in FY17.

In FY16, the six private DTH operators comprising Airtel Digital TV, Dish TV, Tata Sky, Videocon d2h, Sun Direct, and Reliance Digital TV had paid ₹ 1068.6 crore in licence fee to the MIB. (See Fig 1)

All DTH platforms must pay 8% of their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) as a DTH license fee.

However, according to recent TRAI reports, DTH Platforms have seen significant growth in their active subscriber numbers. The TRAI only reports numbers submitted to it by DTH platforms.

Reports to their shareholders and TRAI also indicate either stagnant or increased ARPUs.

"It seems in-explicable that the DTH license fee received by the I&B ministry from the DTH industry has actually plummeted 18% in the past 12 months!" points out an industry observer.

DTH Platforms Are Either Under Paying Taxes Or Declaring Inflated Subscriber Numbers To TRAI & Their Share Holders?

"Are DTH Platforms either under-paying their due taxes or declaring inflated active subscriber numbers to the TRAI & their shareholders," he mulled.

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The MIB has granted 15 new Digital MSO licences between 3 August and 30 September.

The license of ABS Group chief Atul Sarafpromoted Live Satellite, has been cancelled.

Nine out of 15 MSOs are proprietorship firms while 3 of them are private companies. Two are partnership-based firms while one is a society.

There are now 1469 licensed Digital MSOs, all of which are permitted to operate anywhere in India.

While the MIB has done away with provisional registrations, there are 2 two entities that hold provisional registrations. Arasu Cable and Godfather Communications.

Godfather's license was issued following an order by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

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Sameer Joseph, CEO of Mumbai's Hathway Bhawani Cabletel & Datacom, a subsidiary of Hathway Cable & Datacom has quit.

Late last year, Samson Jesudas, who held a similar position, had quit the company.

Joseph joined Hathway Bhawani in November 2016 as CEO. Prior to that, he worked at Sun Telenor Payment Bank as VP and national sales & distribution head.

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I&B ministry has suspended the monthly auctions for carriage fees on the vacant slots on DD Free Dish.

The ministry is reviewing the channel slot auction process.

The last e-auction took place in July, in which Doordarshan (run by Prasar Bharati) had earned ₹ 85.10 crore and awarded 11 channel slots including to Star Bharat for its launch. Another auction scheduled for August was cancelled by the broadcaster, citing "administrative reasons".

So far, the platform has 2 vacant slots but the number will increase to 10 by end October.

For 2016-17, Doordarshan earned ₹ 264.17 crore from Free Dish, which was more than 30% of its revenue.

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Tamil Nadu State owned & operated Arasu Cable Corp. has admitted to the I&B ministry that its DAS roll out is incomplete. They have written to the MIB asking for a further extension till end December 2017.

This revert by Arasu was in response to the MIB's letter to Arasu seeking confirmation that the MSO had switched off its analog Cable TV feed.

In April 2017 Arasu was given a provisional DAS licence, on the condition that its digitisation would be complete by July 2017. In July, the MSO sought a 1 month extension. Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami launched the free STB scheme only on September 1, to seed its 72 lakh customers.

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Ashutosh Sharma, secretary with the Department of Science and Technology (DST), told the press that the DST is in talks with the I&B ministry to launch a channel dedicated to science. "The I&B Ministry has been positive in its response and it will still take a few months for the project to materialise," Sharma clarified.

The plan for a dedicated Science channel has been pushed after noted film journalist Shyam Benegal emphasised on the need for it at a science film festival held last year.

The DST also plans to make the channel available on the internet, for widest possible reach.

Sharma added that it will be mandatory for doctorate students funded by the DST to write popular science papers. Their papers can be later published in science magazines and newspapers. "We intend to have 1,000 such papers on popular science written by students. We will also give awards for best science papers," Sharma said.


Between 6 to 30 September, the MIB has issued 1 TV channel licence to Zee Media Corporation Ltd (ZMCL) to launch Zee Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand. Incidentally, ZMCL already had a regional news channel for UP/Uttarakhand market called Zee Sangam. However, that channel was converted into a national news channel called India 24×7 & recently rebranded Zee Hindustan.

The MIB has simultaneously cancelled 5 TV channel licences. Most of these were because the channels were no longer operational.

The five channels whose licences have been revoked are:

♣ L & C Media's SS Entertainment,

♣ Leader Television and Entertainment's Leader TV,

♣ Turner International India's TCM Turner Classic Movies,

♣ ZEEL's Zee Cinema Middle East, and

♣ Vyjayanthi Televentures' Mayabazar.

As on 30 September, there are 877 licensed TV channels, consisting of 388 news and current affairs channels and 489 non-news channels.


As part of the Modi government's move to make doing business in India, easier, through an order dated 22 February 2017, the MIB had cancelled the requirement by broadcasters to obtain a no-objection certificate from the Department of Space (DoS) for all applications seeking uplinking permission/ change of teleport and/ or satellite for TV channels.

The MIB had termed this separate NoC as a duplication of effort. The MIB has now reversed its decision and once again made it mandatory for broadcasters to obtain the no-objection from DoS.

The reversal came after DoS observed that by not referring TV channel applications to them, frequency coordination on foreign satellites was not getting examined & this could create interference issues and difficulties in coordination with Indian satellites at any later stage.

"In view of the above, the earlier order issued by this Ministry dated 22nd February 2017 is hereby withdrawn with immediate effect. This order will come in force with immediate effect," according to the MIB's new order.

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ZEEL will launch a High Definition (HD) feed of Tamil GEC Zee Tamil HD on 15 October.

ZEEL recently received licenses to launch 3 HD channels: Zee Tamil HD, Zee Telugu HD and Zee Kannada HD.

Since 2016, ZEEL has been adding regional HD channels, with the launch of Zee Talkies HD, Zee Marathi HD, and Zee Bangla HD.

Currently, ZEEL owns and operates 11 HD channels including the recently launched &Prive HD and Living Foodz HD.

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The TDSAT has told Reliance Digital TV (DTH) to pay ₹ 7.5 Cr to Antrix to avoid transponder suspension. ₹ 5 crore was to be paid preferably by 13 October but certainly on 16 October and the remaining ₹ 2.5 crore by the end of the week.

Antrix said Reliance Digital was to pay approximately ₹ 9 crore for the period 15 August till 15 October.

Reliance Digital TV pleaded that as per the existing agreement, billing is done at the beginning of the month but the amount is payable only by the month-end.

MEASAT has demanded payment of ₹ 20.7 crore in advance by Antrix. The Government of India has been impleaded as respondent no.2.

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In a unique offering to raise revenues, Videocon d2h has created a microsite on its DTH platform, that will provide its subscribers a detailed view of the newly launched Skoda Monte Carlo & Kodiaq through its HD Set Top Box (STB).

A yellow button the HD STB remote open the microsite, which showcases exterior and interior pictures of Skoda Kodiaq along with other features of the car.

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