TV channels can still seek downlink OK: Govt

NEW DELHI: Television channels that have not yet applied for registration under downlink norms in India need not loose heart, though the deadline expired on 11 May 2006.

The government said that a channel can apply for registration in India for re-distribution clearance even after the expiry of the deadline.
However, there is a rider. Those applying for landing rights after 11 May 2006 would not be carried by cable networks legally till the time the government gives it a clearance.

“There’s no bar on TV channels applying for registration still. The only difference being that such channels can only be seen in Indian cable homes once the government clears them, which may take longer time compared to those who applied within the deadline,” an official of the information and broadcasting ministry told today.

Last week, the government had clarified that from 11 May, all TV channels uplinking from outside India and having applied for registration with the government by that date could be carried on cable networks for the next six months or till the time government decides on their applications.

The official explained that a channel applying for registration after the deadline would be given less priority compared to those who made an attempt to adhere to norms within the stipulated time.

The registration process is two-fold. First a TV channel will be registered with the government, which will make it easier for the authorities to monitor errant ones on various counts, including breach of the programming code.

Second, an authorized company, responsible for the actions of a channel beaming into India, will be registered. This entity can either be an authorized distributor of a channel in India or the channel-owning company’s Indian subsidiary.

Now that the deadline for adhering to downlink norms is over, the government will compile the information, including shareholding patterns, provided by various channels and companies and scrutinize their authenticity.

“This task will take some time and that’s why we have indicated a six-month period. The work can be completed earlier also,” the ministry official pointed out.

Conspicuous by their absence are Pakistan TV family of channels, including PTV, Geo TV, the ARY channels and Q TV.

“If they haven’t applied for registration, then their carriage on any (Indian) cable network or a DTH platform (beaming to Indian consumers) would be termed illegal,” the I&B ministry categorically said.

The ministry is also in the process of issuing a notification in this regard, which will amend the Cable TV Act of 1995 and the DTH guidelines to incorporate the features of downlink norms.

“The notification in this regard should be out in a day or two,” the official said. The downlink norms, announced in November 2005, have been termed stringent by many a broadcaster and industry lobbying bodies.

Those TV channels that have got permission to uplink from India will be deemed as registered after furnishing some additional details.

Meanwhile, according to the I&B ministry’s website, a total of 65 TV channels have applied for registration till 11 May.

The channels are Star Utsav, Star Plus, Star World, Star Gold, Star One, Star Movies, Channel V, Deutsche Welle TV, Angel TV, Hallmark Channel, Disney Channel, Toon Disney, Star Vijay, Sony TV, Set Max, Animax, SET Pix, SAB(Sony), AXN, National Geographic Channel (NGC), History Channel, MTV, Nick, Vh 1, MTV2, Ten Sports, Channel News Asia, B4U Music, B4U Movies, Discovery Channel, Discovery Travel & Living, Animal Planet, Zee Studio, Zee Café, Zee Trendz, CNN International, HBO, POGO, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, TV5 Monde, ESPN Sports, Star Sports, BBC World, Fashion TV, Voyages Television, Miracle Net TV, God TV, Reality TV, ABC Asia Pacific, Zee Arabia, Goal TV-1, Goal TV-2, Zee MGM, Day Star Television, DAN Tamil Ozhi, DAN Cinema, DAN Music, Trace TV, Euro News, Family Entertainment TV, CT Buzz, Raj Musix and Vissa TV. learns that Essel Shyam, a joint venture between Shyam Electronics and Zee’s parent Essel Group, has applied for registration on behalf of over a dozen of TV channels, most of which are foreign owned.

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