Regulators

For Reddy, where he left off last time round good place to start

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/smartcrop_800x800/public/images/regulators-images/2015/12/03/jai-pal.jpg?itok=gPyxVzlb

Jaipal Reddy's second inning at the information and broadcasting ministry has one similarity --- nothing much has changed since the time he was last here in 1997 when the United Front was in power at the Centre for a brief period.

Some basic issues --- like bringing about true autonomy in Prasar Bharati and a regulatory framework for the chaotic broadcast and cable sector --- still linger on having made little progress under successive ministers. In that sense, Reddy could begin from where he left off in the last decade.

However, it is easier said than done for Reddy. As was the case during his last stint at Shastri Bhawan, which houses the I&B ministry in the Capital, he was a minister in a coalition government and this time round too the allies of the Congress are unlikely to make life easy for any minister. Having to deal with the Left parties and regional satraps the likes of Laloo Prasad Yadav is not going to be easy street for Reddy.

What should be the priorities for Reddy this time round? If we at indiantelevision.com know a little about Reddy, then two thing could be taken for granted: he is unlikely to be an overzealous moral policeman (the likes of FTV and Trendz can heave a sigh of relief) and is not susceptible to corporate pressure for policy formulation.

Having said that, one would also like the new minister to take a definite stand on issues like the payment of license fee by private radio FM players, most of whom have been trying to put pressure on the government to waive the annual fee, which became payable on 30 April. Since most private FM radio stations are operated by big media organisations, the I&B ministry and its bureaucrats have been under intense pressure to rule in the former's favour.

Talks of persistent phone calls from senior editors of organisations to bureaucrats in the I&B ministry on the issue were an oft-heard allegation. Though the sector regulator had suggested to the previous government to keep the license fee in abeyance till related issues are settled formally, Reddy needs to send out immediate signals that the government cannot be taken for granted and his ministry put under pressure to do something that may take quite some time. His immediate message to private FM radio players ought to be: withdraw the court cases, pay up the license fee now and the government would look into their grievances and suggestions from an expert panel on FM radio on priority.

Media houses may just be warned that Reddy is not a wimp because beneath the soft exterior, he hides a tough will. Remember the banning of reception of KU-band signals for DTH services way back in 1997 even when the then top honchos of Star TV were busy convincing Reddy the pitfalls of such a ban. At that time, the government and Reddy were convinced that Star TV was trying to cock a snook at the government on the DTH issue by holding a press conference and giving out ads to newspapers, even as the government said it was contemplating a legislation relating to DTH.

After having taken care of the FM radio (license) issue, Reddy also needs to look at the controversial CAS. Considering that his own party, the Congress, and one of its key allies, the Left parties, were against hasty implementation of addressability, it is expected that the new minister would tread cautiously, unlike his immediate predecessor Ravi Shankar Prasad, who despite the best of efforts could not shake off the (bad?) legacy that he inherited from an authoritarian Sushma Swaraj.

Again, treading cautiously is something easier said than done for this government. First, though the I&B ministry bureaucrats are likely to advise against implementation of CAS through a legislation, totally ignoring it would be difficult for Reddy. Simply because CAS has been mandated through a legislation okayed by Parliament. That it was Swaraj who steam-rolled it through both the Houses of Parliament like a woman possessed is another story.

Second, the cable fraternity is not going to take very kindly to Reddy's dithering on CAS. At the end of the day, it was on a government's insistence that the cable industry made investments in infrastructure for CAS rollout.

How would Reddy explain away such investments is something that needs to be seen. What is more important, is the way Reddy handles the cable fraternity and the broadcasters. There is a feeling that Prasad failed to 'manage' the broadcasters properly on the CAS issue.

Since it could be termed Reddy's baby, he could well work towards making Prasar Bharati, India's pubcaster, truly autonomous. He could begin by dusting the cobwebs off an expert panel's (headed by the late Shunu Sen) recommendation on improving the functioning of Doordarshan and All India Radio, which he had himself commissioned during his last stint.

Moreover, Reddy needs to get out of the "filmi chakkar" as I&B minister because the media and entertainment industry is not just restricted to films only.

Considering Reddy also has the additional charge of the department of culture, originally under the human resources department, he could sit down with organisational heads of the likes of the Censor Board to chalk out a broad plan on Indian culture, its portrayal on various sectors of the media, including TV, and preferably bring in a more liberal cultural outlook.

Even with the seeming whittling down of power of the I&B ministry, the fact remains that this organization is of utmost importance to a government even if Prasar Bharati is given full autonomy. Because there are several others units of the ministry that can be easily and effectively used for propaganda.

What is heartening with Reddy at the helm of the I&B ministry is that we would see less of grand standing and more of serious work. Even if that means less colourful copy for the media from a man who is very academic in his approach.

Latest Reads

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/23/trai_0.jpg?itok=22Oi0Qez
TRAI to finalise views on regulating OTT services by May end

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is hoping to finalise its views on over-the-top (OTT) communication services towards the end of May.

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/23/rs.jpg?itok=CjB4WHxZ
New tariff order: TRAI hints at action against DPOs flouting norms

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has warned all cable TV and DTH players that those found to be flouting its new tariff order rules will be taken to task. As per a report by PTI, TRAI will also undertake an audit of the subscriber management and IT systems of operators that don’t...

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/23/TRAI-Story.jpg?itok=c4wGYZo-
Draft regulation on register of interconnection agreements released by TRAI

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Register of Interconnection Agreements Regulations, 2019. The primary objective of register of interconnect regulations is to formulate the contours of a reporting system for the...

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/23/trai.jpg?itok=peLRDaxr
TRAI extends deadline for comments on DAS audit manual consultation paper

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has extended the date for receiving comments and counter comments on its consultation paper “The telecommunication (broadcast and cable) services digital addressable systems audit manual” to 29 April and 6 May respectively.

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/22/RsSharma.jpg?itok=OSNx8g_7
TRAI consultation paper to address regulatory imbalance between OTT players & tecos

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is attempting to handle the ‘regulatory imbalance’ between telecom companies and OTT apps that provide similar services like Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/18/MIB.jpg?itok=LYgSKoKv
MIB to meet broadcasters over pending uplinking, downlinking issues on 30 April

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting(MIB) will hold a meeting to discuss issues related to uplinking and downlinking of satellite channels on 30 April in New Delhi.

Regulators I&B Ministry
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/17/trai.jpg?itok=xnY2tdf-
TRAI directs 6 DPOs, flouting new tariff order rules, to comply within 5 days

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Tuesday directed six distribution platform operators (DPOs) to comply with all provisions of its new tariff order for the broadcast and cable services sectors within five days.

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/11/TRAI-Story.jpg?itok=Vbkx81oF
Tata Sky vs TRAI: Delhi HC lists matter for 25 April

The Delhi High Court has adjourned the petition of top DTH operators Tata Sky, Discovery India Communication, Airtel Digital TV and Sun Direct challenging Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and its new tariff regime to 25 April.

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/11/tv.jpg?itok=trnwD0T8
New TRAI tariff order to impact ad revenue, subscription growth

The new TRAI tariff order by the industry regulator may affect not only the advertising revenue of Indian media companies but also subscription growth. Financial services company Nomura has predicted that near term impact remains tough due to the new regime.

Regulators TRAI

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories