It's all about control & populism

A new set of regulations relating to sports broadcasting, given the green signal by the Indian Cabinet earlier this week, is retrograde and highlights the height of populism that politicians can climb. And, all in the name of public interest, which certainly is the last thing that’s on politicians’ priority list.

If the mandatory content sharing with pubcaster Doordarshan is not enough, the government in all likelihood is set to walk into more legal wrangling as such a move would not only diminish the sports events’ value, but also have a tell-tale effect on private investment that is made for the development of sports in the country, in general.

The mandatory content sharing norm will apply to all future sports events, including those covered by existing contracts relating to broadcasting rights. In case of cricket where the rights have been obtained prior to this law coming into effect, all matches featuring India and the finals would have to be shared with DD by private rights holders.

And, Prasar Bharati, controlling DD and All India Radio, will be able to transmit such events on its “free to air terrestrial channel and (also) carried through satellite”, apart from its subscription-free DTH service. Of course, the ad revenue accruing through such events on DD will be shared in the ratio of 75:25 in favour of private rights holders.

What does this mean? Prasar Bharati gets prized sporting events almost free of cost, while private broadcasters and rights holders’ business model relating to subscription revenue goes for a six. Almost.

Having created the coffin for pay channels, which depend heavily on exclusive events to drive subscription revenue, the government also has tightened the noose around foreign news channels, saying they would not be allowed landing rights in India unless cleared on a case-to-case basis if they have programming and advertising targeted at the Indian audiences.

By giving itself discretionary powers to waive permission regarding foreign news channels, the government has taken several steps backward at a time when it is committed to liberalization. The more things appear to change, the less they actually change.

However, the contentious issue of content sharing has its genesis in private broadcasters getting into legal spat over rights with DD.

It has to be admitted that continued refusal to share cricket, still a money-spinner despite Indian team’s indifferent performances in recent times, with DD --- a certain Dubai-based sports broadcaster is considered a major irritant within the government --- just strengthened the government’s resolve to bring in stringent norms.

Had the broadcasting industry not missed the wood for the trees, it would have realized the importance of the pubcaster, especially in a country like India where still approximately 40 million TV homes don’t get cable TV, and the fact that pushed into a corner politicians would give into populist measures. All in the interest of the so-called masses.

And, what about the Indian cricket board? It would be interesting to see how the bidders for domestic cricket react now? It would not be totally outlandish to conjure a scenario where private players like ESPN Star Sports, Zee Sports, SET India and even Ten Sports bury their differences --- whatever they may be --- to bring down cricket rights prices to levels that might knock the financial bottom out of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and make a dent in its arrogant attitude. After all, enemy’s enemy can turn out to be an ally.

In hindsight, the regulatory developments lend credence to the age old tale of two monkeys fighting for a piece of cake, while the cat ended up eating the whole of it. Today it is sports, notably cricket; tomorrow it might be just any other content on TV.

Self-regulation and some introspection within the industry, probably, is the best medicine that the doctor could prescribe.

Latest Reads
TRAI, European regulator BERC sign net neutrality MoU

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) on Thursday signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" (MoU) on net nuetrality. The MoU, signed by TRAI chairman Ram Sewak Sharma and BEREC chair Johannes Gungl, also adopted a "Joint...

Regulators TRAI
ISRO/DoS relent on use of foreign satellites; MIB starts processing applications

MUMBAI: India’s Department of Space, overseeing the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has eased up on its hitherto hard stance on Indian TV channels and teleports using foreign satellites’ capacity --- if the Indian customer has a long-term contract. In a communication to Ministry of...

Regulators I&B Ministry
RS Prasad launches Wi-Fi choupal project

NEW DELHI: The Indian government on Monday said that 5,000 villages would be turned into digital villages where Internet services would be offered the Wi-Fi Choupal project, which would go a long in empowering people as also expose them to a host of e-governance and entertainment services.  

Regulators I&B Ministry
MIB & Prasar Bharati make up, sign agreement on funds’ release

After lot of heartburning and media statements, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Prasar Bharati, which runs Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR), have inked an agreement that was required for the release of financial allocation to the pubcaster, PTI reported today quoting...

Regulators I&B Ministry
TRAI stands up to DoT on use of foreign satellites for comms services on aircrafts

India’s telecoms and broadcast regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India today stood up again for the lawful right of satellite industry stakeholders. It reiterated that the nation’s policies and guidelines for on- board aircraft communications services like broadband should also allow use...

Regulators TRAI
MIB social media monitoring cell tender deadline extended

NEW DELHI: The Big Brother has arrived? Well the Indian government, being accused of proposing to unleash a surveillance of citizens, has gone in for another extension of the deadline seeking vendors for technical and logistics help to set up such a center.

Regulators I&B Ministry
MIB's new secy Amit Khare joins office

NEW DELHI: In what could be termed as challenging times, Amit Khare (third from left in the pix) yesterday assumed charge as secretary in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on superannuation of Narendra Kumar Sinha.

Regulators People
Star files caveat in Supreme Court on TRAI tariff order

So the slugfest on the pricing of digital television in India is entering the next round. And it is Star India which has approached the Supreme Court and filed a caveat with it on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)’s tariff regulations and more specifically on the 15 per cent issue...

Regulators Supreme Court
HC orders stay on MIB's licence cancellation directive to Alliance Broadcasting

MUMBAI: The Delhi High Court has ordered a stay on a Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) directive to a channel where it had withdrawn the channel’s licence stating that it lacked security clearance.

Regulators High Court

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories