CARLYLE FOR AIRTEL DTH STAKE
Most Indian DTH platforms are strapped for funds, and investors are either moving out or have refused to invest more, until they see returns on the money they have already put in. On the brighter side, the Indian government has increased the FDI limit for DTH platforms to 74%, opening the possibility for increased foreign investments. With digitisation underway, the Indian market has received some enhanced attention.
As reported last month in SCaT, Bharti Airtel DTH is looking to sell stake to investors, based on a valuation of $ 1 million for the DTH enterprise. International PE majors KKR and Bain Capital are reported to be looking at the opportunity.
Latest reports are that PE major Carlyle has also expressed an interest. is in early-stage discussions with Bharti Airtel to acquire a minority stake in its DTH operations.
Airtel DTH claims 7.9 million DTH subs as of end 2012. The year had closed with a claimed 32.4 million active DTH subscribers.
Videocon D2H and Tata Sky have not been able to attract foreign investors in recent time and are instead planning to raise funds from Indian stock markets through an IPO.
HATHWAY: ANAND IS PRESIDENT - DIGITAL PLATFORMS
Hathway Cable & Datacom Limited has appointed former Tata Sky Chief Service Officer (CSO) K V Anand as president - digital platforms.
Anand will be part of core senior management team and will work across functions like revenue enhancement, subscriber management, CRM capability and leveraging infrastructure across cable and broadband platforms.
Anand has 18 years of varied experience. He has held senior positions in Star TV across Asia and Middle East regions, a short stint at BSkyB in the UK and a long stint at Tata Sky. K V Anand was part of the core start-up team that launched Tata Sky's DTH service and held the position of CSO at Tata Sky prior to joining Hathway.
30% LOCAL STBS COMPULSORY ?
If press reports are to be believed, the government is planning to make it mandatory for the Indian Cable TV industry to purchase atleast 30% to 40% of its STBs from local manufacturers.
"We want to encourage domestic manufacturing of set-top boxes (STBs). Until the industry is asked to buy it from local manufacturers, domestic manufacturing will not get a boost. We are going to make it mandatory for cable operators to buy at least 30-40% of the STBs from Indian manufacturers in the phase-III and phase-IV of digitisation," U K Varma, secretary, I&B ministry.
Sources said the Centre is working on the details of the direction that will come into effect in the third and fourth phases of digitization, which will covers cable consumers in municipal areas and the rest of country. The first and second phases covered around 25 million subscribers across 42 cities.
With a 5% increase in taxes on imported STBs in the Feb budget, the government expects to earn an additional Rs. 400 Crore from STB imports.
The DoT has already accepted a similar proposal for the telecom sector. Starting this year, telecom operators are required to purchase 60 security sensitive equipment such as SIM cards, modems, routers & leased-line equipment from Indian vendors only. The department of Information Technology has also notified that the government will purchase atleast 30% (value based) of its procurement, from Indian manufacturers.
TARA & CHANNEL 10 SHUT DOWN
Bengali Channel 10 was shut down on 16th April.
Channel 10 was being run by Sudipta Sen, chairman and managing director of Saradha Group of Companies, Kolkata.
Nearly a dozen newspapers, magazines and news channels belonging to the Group have closed down over the past 1 month.
Tara Muzik, Tara Newz, South Asia Television & Channel 10 were all run by the same group and have been shut down.
In his April 14 mail to employees, Sudipta Sen wrote "This is to inform you that all 'print & electronic media' Houses under Saradha Group of Companies will become in-operative w.e.f 15th April, 2013. The Company is compelled to take such a step, as it has become impossible for the company to incur the operating expenses of all the media houses. Thus you all are requested to search for new job opportunities. The company will pay you the salary till 15th April 2013. The salary payments will be made in the months of June, July, August & September 2013."
TV LICENSE FEE ?
The Pitroda panel is mulling various measures to generate Rs. 2,000 Crore annually to fund the Prasar Bharti. The panel comprises Jawhar Sircar, chief executive, Prasar Bharati; Jitendra Mathur, additional secretary, I&B ministry; Asha Swarup, former I&B secretary; B K Gairola, mission director (egovernance); Shekhar Kapur, member, Innovation Council; and M P Gupta of IIT Delhi.
Options being considered include an annual TV license fee to be paid on every TV set. Alternately, the government may ask private channels to pay for the Prasar Bharti's annual upkeep.
The group also advocated leveraging all the assets of Prasar Bharati such as real estate and power transmitters.
Yet another proposal is to spin off some Doordarshan channels as Pay Channels to generate revenues.
The proposals have been floated by a working group on 'Business Development of Prasar Bharati', constituted under the chairmanship of Sam Pitroda, advisor to the Prime Minister on information infrastructure and innovation.
Some have criticised the suggestions. "This is not a feasible idea. When the whole system is moving away from licence raj, bringing back the licence system for television which existed in the early '80s for radio sets is wrong," S Y Quraishi, former Director General of Doordarshan and then Chief Election Commissioner, told the press.
Earlier, too, in the late 1990s, the Nitish Sengupta committee on restructuring Prasar Bharati had suggested adopting the BBC model of a TV licensing fee. This was not accepted because of the perceived complexities involved.
The panel's final report is expected in the next 3 to 4 months.
BROADCASTERS MUST REPORT AD DURATION
On 22nd March 2013 the TRAI notified its "Standards of Quality of Service (Duration of Advertisements in Television Channels) (Amendments) Regulations, 2013 (3 of 2013)." The notification restricts the duration of advertisements on any TV channel to a maximum of 12 minutes per clock hour.
Broadcasters lobbied hard to remove or at least postpone the TRAI notification.
Fortunately for TV audiences countrywide, the TRAI implemented its earlier notification vide its 9th April order.
All satellite TV channel broadcasters are now required to submit quarterly reports to the TRAI, in the prescribed format, for ads carried on their channels.
For the first Saturday & Sunday and the last Wednesday & Thursday of each month, the TRAI prescribed format requires each channel to separately list the duration of commercial ads, self promotional ads and public service ads carried during each clock hour commencing midnight.
For all other days the channels need to simply state the maximum duration in minutes during the clock hour for ads carried by them in the 3 separate ad categories. The statements are to be sent within 15 days of the end of each quarter, in an Excel file format to the TRAI.
With this TV viewers will receive respite from excessive ads - some channels carried ads for more than 50% of the time during prime time and block buster movies.
NEW MKTG HEAD AT MAX
Multi Screen Media (MSM) has appointed Vaishali Sharma as the marketing and communications head of its Hindi movie channel and special events channel Max.
Earlier, she was Vice-President marketing at Times Now.
Sharma replaces Gaurav Seth who was appointed as head marketing of Sony Entertainment Television (SET) in December following Danish Khan's exit.
BROADCASTERS SUPPORT TAM
A host of advertisers, broadcasters and audience research agencies have disputed the Competition Commission of India's (CCI) premise in ordering a probe into the functioning and operations of television rating agency TAM Media. CCI has initiated a probe based on a complaint by Prasar Bharati.
The gist of Prasar Bharati's complaint is of neglect & under playing Doordarshan's audiences, thereby impacting its ad revenues. Doordarshan emphasises that its channels have the highest reach across terrestrial, cable and digital delivery platforms. Doordarshan also points out that TAM bases its TRP ratings on just 8,000 people-meters (devices that capture viewership data) placed in towns with a population base of over 1 lakh.
TAM supporters point out that Doordarshan's objective is to spread information, education and entertainment to the citizens and not revenue maximisation. DD channels do have maximum reach but that does not imply viewership. Further, TAM is in the process of increasing its peoplemeters to 30,000.
Further, they allege that Doordarshan infact has a monopoly on terrestrial TV transmissions in the country!
DTH MDU ILLEGAL ?
COFI - the Cable Operator's Federation of India has submitted a memorandum to the I&B minister Manish Tewari protesting that DTH companies were engaged in illegally cable networking by setting up Multi- Dwelling Units (MDUs).
"This may not look to be a cable networking but is akin to cable networks which is pushing out the cable operators from these societies and colonies," COFI has pointed out.
The DTH license explicitly prohibits Cable TV activities and stake ownership by DTH licensees.
COFI points out that the TRAI too has in the past realised this, and even opined that licensing conditions should be amended to ensure a regulatory mechanism to govern the installation of MDU and consumers are given a fair choice as MDU set-up tends to be monopolistic.
The COFI memorandum also pointed out that DTH operators had been violating the interoperability clause, which is a mandatory part of their license agreement.
The cable operators' body requested that the state government and nodal officers responsible for digitisation should also ensure DTH operators do not violating licensing conditions and license of those who violate be cancelled.
MEDIAPRO CFO JOINS TIMES TV
Times Television Network (TTN) has appointed Jagdish Mulchandani as Chief Financial Officer effective April 2. He will be based in Mumbai & will lead finance related strategy and operations for Times Television Network, which operates - ET NOW, MOVIES NOW, TIMES NOW and ZOOM.
He will also oversee the functions of distribution, traffic and administration of the all the channels in the network.
Prior this, Mulchandani was CFO at MediaPro. He has also worked with Star Den, Star India and Star Middle East. In his new role, he will leverage his distribution experience with Times Television Network having now adopted its own penetration and distribution team and its domestic subscription business now with MSM Discovery.
Jagdish reports to Avinash Kaul - CEO.
BCCC WANTS SAY IN DOWNLINK
The Broadcasting Content Complaints Council is a self regulatory and advisory body set up by entertainment channel broadcasters through the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF).
Currently the BCCC can only make recommendations to the government on Uplinking of TV channels. BCCC Chairperson Justice A P Shah said that he had written to the I&B ministry requesting authority to make recommendations on downlinking of TV channels also. This will effectively permit the BCCC to also oversee foreign channels uplinked from abroad.
BIHAR GOVT SEEKS DAS EXTENSION
The Information and Public Relations Department (IPRD), Bihar, has written to the I&B ministry requesting it to extend by 45 days the deadline for digitization in Patna. This was decided at a meeting between the secretary of IPRD, Brajesh Mehrotra, and the officials of 2 MSOs in the city - Darsh Digital Network Pvt Ltd and SITI-Maurya Cablenet Pvt. Ltd.
The MSOs had requested an extension of 2 to 3 months. However the IPRD, decided to ask for a 45 day extension.
Till March 31, only 35% of households in the city were digitized. An additional 2.5 lakh STBs are required in Patna.
DAS LAGS IN KANPUR
According to Naresh Babu Yadav, Deputy Commissioner, who is responsible for overseeing the progress of digitisation in Kanpur, around one lakh of the projected three lakh households have yet to receive set-top boxes.
"We will require another 70,000 to 80,000 set-top boxes. Though an estimated 30,000 DTH connections are required in the city, only 5,500 households have DTH connections so far," Yadav said.
A SitiCable official said that logistics issues and delayed clearance of consignments by Customs have created shortage of set-top boxes in Kanpur.
NANDA DEVI YATRA LIVE IN AUGUST
Devotees across the country and abroad can watch the famous 19-day long Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra live on television. The yatra, held every 12 years, is also known as the 'Kumbh of the Himalayas.' The Uttarakhand government has given the direct telecast rights for the pilgrimage to Indian Space Research Organisation, state Science and Technology Minister S S Negi told reporters.
ISRO will set up satellite terminals for live coverage along the Chamoli route. They will operate in the Extended C-Band.
USAC Director M M Kimothi said 18 OB vans will be placed on the route which will have 5 control rooms.
IBF & MSOS TO OPPOSE DAS EXTENSION
The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has joined the impleaded itself in the case filed by MSOs in Bengaluru and Mysore, that there are no grounds for extending the DAS deadline in these 2 cities.
MSOs including Hathway Cable & Datacom, InCable, Den Networks, Siti Cable and Atria Convergence Technologies, have filed the case.
The Karnataka Cable TV Operators Association (KCTVOA) and Mysore Cable TV Operators Association (MCTVOA) had filed separate petitions seeking extension of digitisation in Bengaluru and Mysore respectively due to unavailability of set-top boxes (STBs).
TRAI EXTENDS DATE ON MEDIA OWNERSHIP
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India extended to 22 April its deadline for comments on its consultation paper on cross media ownership, which among other issues had sought comments on devising ownership rules for vertical integration between broadcasting and distribution entities.
The paper had been issued on 15 February, and extension is at the request of some stakeholders.
The TRAI has been asked to devise rules and restrictions in case of mergers and acquisitions in the media sector, and media ownership rules within and across media segments. Methodology to measure ownership or control of an entity over a media outlet; identification of genres for media ownership restrictions and prescribing norms for mandatory disclosures by media entities are some other issues.