Archive for the ‘Prasar Bharati’ Category

`Govt planning BBC-like channel’

September 28, 2006

India Government is planning a channel like BBC. This was told by Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi. But Government is yet to take a final decision.Government is not able to run Prasarbharati perfectly, but keen to start another one !!!

Reports Businessline


Govt. to issue Concept note on Broadcast Bill

July 23, 2006

Government is softening its earlier firm stand on the Broadcast Bill issue. See what I and B secretary said to the Media Committee of CII. Now Government is planning to issue a concept note on proposed Broadcast BillĀ 

Posted by Harikrishnan P V

Broadcast Bill: CAS law out, addressable systems in

July 8, 2006

MUMBAI: If the proposed Broadcast Bill 2006 does become law, it will not just be the requirement of a licence to operate that the cable fraternity will have to grapple with.

The other worrying aspect of the Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill 2006, for the MSOs in particular, is the fact that conditional access systems (CAS) has no place in the Bill’s scheme of things. If the proposed Bill, which is presently being circulated among members of the Union Cabinet, does become law, it effectively means that there will be no rollout of CAS in India. At least as far as the way it was originally mandated (a timebound rollout first the metros and then further afield) is concerned.

The cable industry is presently regulated by the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995. This Act will automatically stand subsumed if (and that’s a BIG if) Parliament signs the Broadcast Bill into an Act of law. What this will mean also is that SEC 4A, the section through which CAS was introduced, would also get deleted.

Interestingly, there is a “savings clause” provided in the proposed Bill that protects CAS where it has already been implemented. Since Chennai is the only metro that is CAS-delivered, it could well end up being the only CAS market in the country.

The thinking of the information and broadcasting ministry mandarins on CAS comes through quite clearly in the wording that the draft Bill uses. It talks of the need to introduce a modified version of CAS that is “more consumer friendly” that it calls Addressable Systems.

And the road map for addressability is through going digital. The Bill proposes to progressively introduce addressable systems from a specified date with a cut-off date to complete the changeover from analogue to digital. And rather than a mandated CAS rollout, the Bill sees addressability coming in as a natural fallout of the phasing out of analogue and the gradual switchover to digital – a process that is going on in many markets across the globe.

An enabling clause in the Bill that eases the switchover to digital is also seen as allowing enough flexibility to make suitable changes or amendments where required.

The draft Broadcast Bill, which calls for the setting up of a separate Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India (Brai), has covered four major areas in its ambit, which include content, cross media ownership, subscriptions and live sports feeds (which are already part of the downlink norms).


Govt wants to do a BBC with Channel Asia

June 18, 2006

The country may launch an international news channel without involving Doordarshan, which will be modelled on the lines of the BBC and the CNN, a government official has said.

"We have had some initial discussions on the matter after the idea was raised by industry," Information and Broadcasting Secretary SK Arora said.

According to sources, the proposal for Channel Asia can cost the government a whopping Rs 350 crore, which, among other things, would be required for placing correspondents in various countries and setting up infrastructure.

Arora said the matter was still in the conceptual stage and nothing concrete had been worked out on the launch of the channel, which aimed to project India "as it stands today" in the global context.

"The idea is to have an autonomous channel on the lines of the BBC and the CNN. If it goes ahead, it will have correspondents in all major cities of the world, including in Asia, Europe and North America," Arora said.

Emphasising that the idea for an international channel was "nothing new," he said it was a long-pending proposal which had been taken up for discussion.

On the reasons for avoiding the Doordarshan tag on the proposed channel, he said it was being done to help the channel get rid of the image of being a government mouthpiece.

"We would like to delink the channel from any such impression and are looking to make it a completely autonomous channel with a separate CEO and COO," he said.

Sources, however, said no matter how ambitious the proposal might look, it had to be taken with a pinch of salt, considering the past record of the government with news channels and the performance of public broadcaster Prasar Bharati’s DD News.

With a major portion of funding coming from the government, the channel has been accused in many circles of being a mouthpiece of the government of the day and has been dismissed as uncompetitive compared with private channels.

Doordarshan has an international channel, DD India, which is available in countries like Canada, the US and the Middle-East.

However, Arora said DD India was targeted only at expatriate Indians. "It has special programming designed only for Indians living abroad and is of not much relevance to foreigners," he said.

Source: Business Standard

All India Radio says its ahead in FM radio war

June 8, 2006

Radio`s share in ad revenue up to 5 per cent

The coming of private FM channels has not affected the popularity of All India Radio (AIR).

A survey conducted in 2005 revealed that listenership had gone up by 30 per cent, and that Akashvani was most popular among Kolkatans with a 59 per cent share of the audience.

Last year itself, it had received 100,000 letters, said Gautam Sengupta, assistant station director, All India Radio, Kolkata.

He was delivering the Dr Sarojit Dutt Memorial Lecture organised by the Public Relations Society of India (PRSI) on the 'Role of FM in the radio resurgence'. "Radio has always existed, it has always been popular," he said.

Sengupta highlighted the public service agenda of AIR in his speech, referring to programmes like "Lonthon theke laser" (From lantern to laser).

Besides, radio was the only available channel of entertainment and information for those who were illiterate or too poor to afford television sets or denied access to steady electricity supply for TVs.

Describing FM as "post-modern" (if radio was modern), Sengupta said that while AIR had ventured into FM itself, it had retained FM gold as a heritage channel for older listeners.

The other speaker at the meeting was Partha Majumder, station head of private FM station, Power FM.

Majumder outlined the shift away from block formats as a result of the multiplicity of channels in India, and the new programming aimed at specific segments of the population, which was mainly the youth.

These models were apparently successful — radio, which had a 1 per cent share of the advertising pie three years ago, now commands a 5 per cent share.

Source: Businessstandard

Trai brings PVRs, MDU tech under scanner

June 6, 2006

NEW DELHI: Broadcast regulator has now turned its scanner on various aspects of a DTH service, including supply of personal video recorders or digital video recorders and rollout of multi-dwelling unit technology by DTH service providers.

In a consultation paper issued today on DTH, the regulator said the need to discuss these issues, amongst others, arises from the "communications of the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B)."

The issues raised by the government are essentially the following:

Amendment of the license conditions to exclude personal video recorder / digital video recorder from the requirement of interoperability.

The platform services that enable the subscribers to utilize the platform efficiently and inform them of platform functionality and services are exempted or otherwise from the uplink licensing requirement.

The use of multiple dwelling unit (MDU) technology.

Trai has said issues that issues like amendment of clauses 7.1 and 7.2 of the DTH license relating to digital video recorders and MDU tech would be discussed with the industry.

The points that need to be ironed out are the following:

If digital video recorders are exempt from requirement of interoperability (amongst various services), the safeguards that should be provided to ensure that consumers can switch from one service provider to the other.

If not whether any safeguards are required to ensure that consumers are fully aware of the limited interoperability of digital video recorders.

Whether the guidelines for uplinking from India should be amended to specifically exclude platform services made available for enabling the subscribers to utilize the platform efficiently and inform them of platform functionality.

Whether the use of MDU technology by a DTH licensee is in conformity with the licensing conditions.

If not, what is the specific clause of the license conditions that is being violated.

Should the license conditions be modified either to specifically permit this technology or to prohibit this technology.

While existing DTH platform Dish TV is in the process of distributing digital video recorders (cost: approximately Rs 16,000) to its subscribers to store programmes and films to viewed at leisure, Tata Sky’s proposed service is aggressively pushing MDU tech in high-rise residential colonies and buildings in Mumbai.

The MDU tech, which can render cable ops almost jobless, has invited the ire of cable operators in Mumbai who have been lobbying against its rollout.

The full text of the consultation paper is available on TRAI’s website ( The last date for sending comments is 26 June, 2006.


Government mulls USO Fund for Prasar Bharati

May 31, 2006

NEW DELHI: Private broadcasters and big MSOs in the country might soon be called to lend a helping hand in the financial restructuring of pubcaster Prasar Bharati.

According to one of the options relating to funding of Prasar Bharati, suggested by a government panel, a corpus can be created from contributions from the broadcast and cable industry on the lines of the universal service obligation (USO) fund in the telecom sector.

Five per cent of a private telecom operator's annual revenues go towards the USO fund, which is used to finance new rural telephony projects identified by the government.

The panel on Prasar Bharati’s financial restructuring has suggested that private broadcasters and MSOs can be asked to contribute between 5-10 per cent of their annual revenues for a USO fund-type corpus, which can be used to support the over 45,000 workforce of the pubcaster.

Prasar Bharati, which manages Doordarshan and All India Radio, is in the middle of a debate over ways to augment its earnings.

This recommendation, along with others in a nearly 300-page report, is being presently studied by a group of ministers (GoM) before the issue is taken to the Union Cabinet for a formal okay.

The GoM met briefly last week, information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told He did not give any time frame on taking the Prasar Bharati matter to the Cabinet.

However, industry players observe whether there would be increased accountability of Prasar Bharati if a USO fund is created via private sector players’ contribution to partly fund pubcaster’s activities. More importantly, whether the funds would be properly used.

According to Hindu Business Line, of the Rs 107.53 billion collected by the government from telecom companies in the form of USO fund since its inception in 2002-03, a staggering Rs. 70 billion is yet to be disbursed.

The newspaper quoted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India as saying that undisbursed amount is estimated to cross Rs 250 billion by 2010 against a total collection of Rs. 375 billion, which means only 48 per cent of the fund is expected to be utilised for extending telephone services in the rural areas. The numbers assume significance even as the digital divide between rural and urban is ever increasing.

Meanwhile, letting the pubcaster tap the capital markets and levying a cess on sale of every TV and radio set in the country are amongst some of the other options suggested by the committee on financial rejig of Prasar Bharati.

Though Prasar Bharati closed FY 2006 with record-breaking revenues of over Rs 12 billion, its expenses are so huge that the government is finding it difficult to bridge the chasm between income and expenditure.


Trai told to re do CAS proposals

May 29, 2006

Trai told to redo CAS proposals; Baijal's recommendations dumped

NEW DELHI: The government seems to be dumping several recommendations formulated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

These recommendations were made by Trai when it was being headed by Pradip Baijal, who retired this month. Baijal and Union minister for telecommunications, Dayanidhi Maran were often at loggerheads over many issues.

The latest casualty in the list is the Trai recommendation of October 2004 on conditional access system (CAS). It is learnt that the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry has sought fresh recommendations on CAS from Trai, and the same are expected within the next 10 days.

Trai, which regulates the telecom sector and the carriage aspects of the broadcasting industry, is now being headed by Nripendra Misra after Baijal’s term ended in March.

Besides the Trai recommendation on CAS, many others are also being reviewed and reworked. For instance, the communications ministry recently asked the regulator to issue fresh recommendations on spectrum for third generation (3G) telecom services. This is despite Trai having issued spectrum recommendations in May 2005.

Other Trai recommendations, which are not being actively considered, include those on mobile number portability (issued on March 8, 2006); issues relating to private terrestrial TV broadcasting (August 29, 2005); publication of mobile phone directory (May 5, 2005); and on office of ombudsman (August 10, 2004).

As for CAS, the government has been told by the Delhi High Court to submit a timeframe, by July 5, for rollout of the addressability system across four metros.

Although the NDA government had mandated CAS in the metros three years ago, the order was denotified in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata due to political resistance. Chennai is the only place which has CAS now. CAS is about enabling TV viewers to watch pay channels of their choice through a set-top box.

Among the issues that Trai is likely to revisit while framing fresh recommendations on CAS are pricing of channels; norms for bouquets or clutch of channels versus ala-carte channels; modality for CAS rollout; standardisation of set-top boxes; and renting of set-top boxes.

According to an official in the I&B ministry, "the government has written to Trai asking it to revisit some of its recommendations on CAS".

He reasoned, "we want to introduce CAS and not chaos, as was the case last time". The I&B ministry had several rounds of consultation with industry stakeholders on CAS recently, after which it sought fresh recommendations from Trai, the official pointed out.

While Trai had suggested three options for rolling out CAS, the new recommendation is likely to focus on `mandatory’ CAS in the metros.

Also, even as Trai had earlier prescribed norms for channel bouquets, the new set of recommendation may look at modalities of offering individual pay channels (rather than bouquets) to TV viewers under CAS.

In addition, Trai has been advised to offer specific and pointed recommendations on issues such as fixing of MRP of channels; set-top box rental; and revenue-sharing between cable operators and broadcasters. In the earlier recommendation of 2004, Trai left many issues hanging and ambiguous, it is felt.


Digital India circa 2015

May 28, 2006

NEW DELHI: In case, you are investing in a TV set or a set top box, think twice. Experts in the government have drawn out a detailed plan to phase out all analogue transmission and turn India completely digital in the coming five year plan (’07-12). The deadline for a ‘Digital Delhi’ has been set as ’10. As per the proposed plan, India will go completely digital by ’15.In this project, Prasar Bharati will take the leap ahead by ensuring digital terrestrial broadcast for all cities by ’13.

This will extend to both All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan (DD), according to IT experts in the Planning Commission. As far as conversion of cable and satellite (C&S) homes from analogue to digital is concerned, the first step would involve providing conditional access to C&S homes and then converting them to digital technology by ’15.This time around, the government plans to take no chance with set top boxes, which will not be imported as per the current recommendations. Experts have drawn a detailed plan for indigenous production of digital set top boxes (STBs) in order to avoid any controversy over the issue. The indigenously made STBs should have digital analogue conversion capability for delivery of digital signal to the subscriber, alongwith conditional access and addressability features.

The experts have also recommended that national standards for the manufacture of digital signal receivers must be established before indigenous production commences. In order to make digital conversion a complete success — testing, publication and adoption of technical standards for terrestrial digital transmission must be done by the government. This must also include adoption and publication of digital standards for cable television. The plan, which is to be implemented in a phased manner during the eleventh five year plan, also recommends the creation of a body that will have a single regulator for both content and carriage. The proposed regulator will ensure convergence of all network platforms — broadcast, satellite and telecom. It will also look into convergence of voice, video and data.

While the US has set a target to completely phase out analogue technology by ’10, China is also working on the same lines to go digital between ‘12-15.

Courtesy: Economic