Cable TV

Broadcast bill ready; scheduled to be tabled in Monsoon Session of Parliament

NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: After many years of meandering on the margins (since 1997), the information and broadcasting ministry is ready with a final draft of the Broadcast Bill 2006, which in all likelihood is going to turn out to be controversial and stringent at the same time.

The recommendations that have been proposed in the bill, if they finally become law, are bound to have seismic repercussions in the industry. The draft 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 would call for major corporate restructuring by media companies, foreign and domestic, operating in India. These include content, cross media ownership, subscriptions and live sports feeds (which are already part of the downlink norms).

Some of the key recommendations as per the draft bill:

* The bill introduces restrictions on cross media holdings in all electronic ventures capping it a maximum 20 per cent. While print media companies have not been included in the ambit of the bill for the present, this could be later extended to them as well.

On restrictions on accumulation of interest, the draft bill states, “The Central government shall have the authority to prescribe such eligibility conditions and condition with regard to accumulation of interest in the print and broadcast segments as may be considered necessary from time to time to prevent monopolies across different t segments of the media.”

What this means is that a broadcaster like Star, for instance, can have a maximum 20 per cent stake in an FM radio venture or a multi system operator.

The immediate fallout of such a bill becoming law would be that Star, which has a 26 per cent holding in the Rajan Raheja-promoted Hathway Cable & Datacom MSO, would have to bring down its stake by 6 per cent.

It seems that the demerger that took place in Zee Telefilms could prove to be beneficial for the company. Down South, the Sun TV group would also have to restrict its interest in cable distribution companies like Sumangli.

In this regard, the draft bill states, “No broadcasting network service provider and its associated companies shall have more than 20 per cent share of paid up equity or have any other financing or commercial arrangement that may give it management control over the financial, management or editorial policies of any other broadcasting network service provider…”

* No broadcasting service provider (television company) can hold more than 20 per cent equity in another TV company. Additionally, no TV company can own more than 15 per cent of the total number of television channels beaming in the country.

“No content broadcasting service provider shall have more than the prescribed share of the total number of channels in a city or state, subject to overall ceiling of 15 pr cent for the whole country,” the draft states.

* A broadcast network service provider (presumably multi system operator / cable operator) cannot have more than 15 per cent of the national average in regards to subscriber numbers.

What this means, at the moment as an explanatory annexure are not available, is that if 60 million is the C&S national subscriber average, an MSO like Zee group's SitiCable or the Hinduja-owned INCablenet or Sumangli, for example, cannot exceed 9 million paid subscribers in a city or a state.

“No broadcasting network service provider shall have more than the prescribed of the total number of consumer/subscribers in city or a state subject to the overall ceiling of 15 per cent for the whole country,” the draft bill states.

* TV channels on a mandatory basis would have to have a certain prescribed percentage of content produced locally and also carry socially relevant programmes.

“The share of content produced in India shall not be less than 15 per cent of the total content of a channel broadcast during every week,” the draft bill states.

It also goes on to state that the share of public service/socially relevant programme content shall not be less than 10 per cent of the total programme content of a channel broadcast during every week.

This would mean that channels like Cartoon Network, Animax, Discovery, Animal Planet and Discovery Travel and Living would have to have a prescribed percentage of content generated from India, which has been a long-standing demand of Indian animators.

*Cable Ops / MSOs to operate only on licence from Brai.

This could well be the catalyst that brings in some order into the cable industry. At present, the only requirement for anyone wanting to start cable services is that he/she should fill in the prescribed form at any post office and pay the nominal fee.

* Existing laws and guidelines relating to broadcasting, TV and radio, would subsume under this over-arching regulatory framework.

This would mean that laws and guidelines relating to FM radio, DTH, community radio, uplink and downlink of channels and use of SNG/DSNG infrastructure would cease to exist and assimilate with the broadcast law.

The Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill 2006 is presently being circulated among members of the Union Cabinet. Depending on the Cabinet direction, the bill is scheduled to be tabled during the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

TV and cable companies refused to comment on the draft proposals today, saying they are yet to see the government paper, which needs to be studied in detail.

Latest Reads
Government to once again make MHA clearance compulsory for MSOs?

Every multisystem operator (MSO) which is licensed with the ministry of information & broadcasting (MIB), will now have to also seek the ministry of home affairs' s (MHA's) ecurity clearance. A notification to this effect is being planned and passed by the Narendra Modi government.

Cable TV Multi System Operators
MSOs move Madras HC seeking relief on inter-connect pacts

MUMBAI: The All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) had filed a petition in the Madras High Court few days back pleading a directive to broadcasters to maintain a status quo on renegotiating agreements between TV channels and MSOs till a final judicial call was taken on TRAI’s new tariff regime...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
Siti bullish on broadband: Rajesh Sethi

Mumbai: Despite uncertainty in many quarters, these are interesting times for people following the multi-system operator (MSO) industry. Recently, Siti Networks Ltd (Siti) released its Q2 and H1 results for 2017-18, reigniting the hope for growth in the industry. Announcing growth in operating...

Cable TV People
Louis Boswell appointed CASBAA CEO

CASBAA Association has appointed Louis Boswell, senior media and digital business leader in Asia, as the chief executive officer (CEO). Boswell will begin his tenure on 1 January 2018, succeeding outgoing CEO Christopher Slaughter.

Cable TV People
Multiple challenges weaken Ortel numbers in second quarter

Hit by multiple challenges, Indian regional multi-system operator (MSO) reported lower numbers and posted a net loss – the second one this fiscal- for the quarter ended 30 September 2017 (Q2-18, quarter under review). The company expects stabilization of business to happen one year down the line...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
Now, Comcast in talks to buy 21st Century Fox

According to several reports, 21st Century Fox is on the block and Philadelphia-based cable TV conglomerate Comcast is interested. Comcast has approached Fox about acquiring most of the company. Reportedly, Verizon, the biggest wireless carrier in the US, has also thrown its hat into the ring....

Cable TV Multi System Operators
CASBAA elects new board directors

The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) has announced the election of several new directors to its board, and the return of a number of long-serving directors.

Cable TV People
Workshop to train manpower in cable TV distribution

NEW DELHI: A workshop is being held on 27 November to deliberate on the importance of skilling, certification and accreditation of the manpower deployed in cable TV distribution.

Cable TV Multi System Operators
Higher subscription & activation lead Den's turnaround in Q2

BENGALURU: Indian multi system operator (MSO) Den Network (Den) reported growth in operating revenue, operating profit (EBIDTA) and profit after tax (PAT) for the quarter ended 30 September 2017 (Q2-18, current quarter) as compared to the corresponding year ago quarter. In Q2-17 (the corresponding...

Cable TV Multi System Operators

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories