Television

Broadcasting Bill to be fair and open: Dasmunsi

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NEW DELHI: "Investors in the broadcast sector must realise that the government's policy is open, and when the (broadcasting) bill is ready, the world will see and realise this," said information and broadcasting minister PR Dasmunsi at the inauguration of the three-day Broadcast Engineering Society Expo 2007 today.

Dasmunsi said, "There is a huge potential for development of broadcasting in India and we have a lot of advanced technologies available with us. What we need to have is proper selection of technologies suiting our requirements."

I&B secretary SK Arora, in his remarks said that in devising a regulatory framework, the interest of the consumer is foremost in government's mind. The business models have to suit the large number of our consumers. Policy framework and the business models have to be in sync to cater to the consumer interest, he added.

Sharing with his audience the excitement of living in this amazing age of broadcasting revolution, he stressed nevertheless that the government would ensure a level playing field for all, and more than that, not allow most of the consumers to be deprived of the benefits of technology. Prices need to be controlled to keep them affordable.

"We must allow full play of technology, business and management to take shape successfully," he said, adding, "the regulatory regime is crucial for the success of innovative ideas and products."

He had a critique of the government sector too, which, he said, lacked management skills. "The public sector must realise the commercial aspects, and be acutely conscious of working out systems to facilitate innovations and business models to become successful," Arora held.

He stressed that the core philosophy of the government was simple: the consumer. "Everyone must keep this in mind," he added for good measure.

Prasar Bharati's experience in introducing newer technologies (TV, FM radio, DTH, now digitalisation and mobile TV) has helped develop the regulatory environment.

"We have depended on the technological expertise of Prasar Bharati while designing the regulatory regime," he explained.

He felt that though the regulatory framework must have adequate provision for segmentation and exploitation of the market by investors, the business models they develop must be appropriate and new technology is carried to the people at affordable prices.

The inauguration ceremony also saw BES president AS Guin, David Astley, secretary general of AsiaPacific Broadcasting Union, and Roger Crumpton, CEO of International Association of Broadcast Manufacturers address the more than 300 persons attending the function.

'BROADCASTING MULTI-FACETED, MULTI-DIMENSIONAL'

In his keynote address, Crumpton said that broadcasting is not only a multifaceted affair, as the title for this year's Expo suggested, but a multidimensional one, in which the engineering challenges were just huge.

Especially in India, he added, explaining that whereas only 19 per cent of the people in the US and 20 per cent in the UK were under 15, the figure is 35 per cent for India, and with this population the multiplicity of platforms is not important: content is everything.

"It does not matter on what platform they are accessing it, but they want it where and when they choose and what they choose. This is the young demographics we are dealing with, which is cash-positive and time-negative," Crumpton said.

What was important in his speech was that he made presentations of when the first TV sets came and then the first colour TV sets came and it all seemed to people like him, and these are the people who are having to design technologies and content, so this aging generation of experts need to be in synch with the young demographics facing them.

The challenge is that for this generation, there must be a clear agenda for creation and delivery of content, which will be constantly repurposed in real time, a situation where broadcasting will face this problem. Because there is a paradigm shift from tapes-based programming to file-based one, he explained.

"There has to be a radical shift," Crumpton argued, "for training, qualifying and accreditation systems."

And he saw a huge opportunity for India. He says this paradigm shift, combined with an ageing skilled workforce in the West has already started creating problems of skill shortages in the globally $11 billion broadcasting market, which is also facing revenue streaming threats from telecom and IPTV.

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