The Indian Broadcasting Society (IBS) officially announced its formation at a press conference in Mumbai. The society has attracted some 30 members, claims ISkyB chairman R. Basu, the president. Membership is open to TV producers, airtime marketing agents, and broadcasters and annual fees will depend on the membership-seeking company‘s revenues.

While Basu and the rest of the executive members assured reporters that Zee TV, Sun TV and the Prasar Bharati had agreed to become members, Zee TV at least openly states that it will only provide support to the society from outside without taking up membership. The press release issued by the society lists Zee Network CEO and managing director Vijay Jindal as one of its vice-presidents. Jindal did not attend the conference. The IBS has not taken a position on allowing cable TV operators to become members; not even the large ones.

The society is setting up a secretariat in Delhi, which will be headed by former I&B secretary and an old-time Basu friend, Bhaskar Ghose. It will present the industry‘s viewpoint to the government on issues such as the cable TV regulation act, the Broadcast Bill, and self-regulation.

The IBS is also chatting with the Advertising Agencies Association of India and the Indian Society of Advertisers to draw up a standard credit system for advertisers on television channels. Long-outstanding payments from advertisers have been hurting Indian television channels at a time when the advertising industry has been going through a recession. The society will maintain a website, which will be regularly updated on the payment track record of advertisers and agencies.

IBS vice-president and TV producer Harish Thawani said that the society will conduct an Indian Television Survey annually which will enable the television industry to study Indian viewing habits from a qualitative viewpoint. The IBS says its view is that the industry should have only one television viewing rating system rather than the two, which are currently operating in India.

Earlier efforts to set up a representative body for the television industry have not been successful. Basu, however, says that this time there is a concerted effort with representation from everyone involved in broadcasting. "It will be the only true representative body," he says.

However, in private, even some of the executive members did not think much of the IBS. "It‘s got a long way to go," they echoed. "It‘s unlikely that executives with egos as big as these and conflicting interests will be able to see eye to eye on more than a handful of issues."

Clearly, a lot more is needed to get the IBS going.

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