Unregulated growth of TV channels can lead to spectrum crunch: Zohra

NEW DELHI: While spectrum is available, unregulated growth of television channels can lead to a crunch situation, according to Information and Broadcasting Ministry Joint Secretary (Broadcasting) Zohra Chatterjee.

The aim is to act in time to have a set of guidelines for clearing applications for new channels and to know if there is a need to put a cap on the total number in a scenario where the country is already uplinking or downlinking over 500 channels, Chatterjee said.
Chatterjee defended the government’s action in asking the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to study the number of television channels that can be permitted in the country on the ground that spectrum may not be available for too long.

Asked how so many channels had been permitted until now, she said the Uplinking and Downlinking Guidelines were formulated in November 2005, by which time a large number of channels were already being downlinked.

Addressing a session on the need for a National Media Policy at Convergence 2010, she said in reply to a question that the cable operator was at present responsible for telecast of any channel that was not permitted.

At the same time, she said there was no bar on the local channels that cable operators started on their own catering to their respective areas. 
All the participants were unanimous that the time had come for a National media policy.

However, Bharti Telemedia Chief Marketing Officer Sugato Banerji said with digitisation, satellite space would always be there.

Latens Regional Director Asia Rahul Nehra regretted the lack of single window clearance as in neighbouring countries like Nepal.

NSTPL managing director Ankur Jain felt the whole issue about spectrum had been misunderstood. Satellite spectrum is abundantly available, he said, referring to a new satellite to be launched soon by Isro. He regretted the artificial shortage had been created because there was no sharing of infrastructure.

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