[60 Days to D-Day] All stakeholders need to work together: Neeraj Sanan

02 May,2012

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued new rules refurbishing the regulatory structure of the broadcasting, cable and DTH industry ahead of the digitization switch over in four metros, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai from July 1. The order deals with issues such as channel availability, channel pricing, carriage fee and revenue sharing.


Digitization is being seen as the game changer for the Indian TV industry, expected to bring a sea change for viewers, broadcasters and cable operators. The broadcasting industry is expected to see a growth in subscription revenue post digitization, as opposed to the present model where they depend largely on advertising revenue.


As per the new guidelines, ‘The Broadcaster would enjoy ‘must carry’ provision from 1.1.2013 or 1.4.2013 as the case may be, for Hindi, English and channels in the regional language of the concerned area.’  In the order, TRAI has also addressed the much debated issue of carriage fee. The order states, “Keeping in view the fact that substantial investment for implementation of Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems is made by the MSO and the cost involved in carriage of channels, the Authority has decided that every MSO may fix the Carriage Fee. However, it should be published in the Reference Interconnect Offer and applied in a uniform, non-discriminatory and transparent manner. The Carriage Fee cannot be revised upward for a minimum of 2 years. The Authority would intervene in case it is felt that the Carriage Fee is unreasonable.”


The regulatory has also prescribed the MSOs to increase their channel carrying capacity, stating that every MSO should have a minimum capacity to carry 200 channels by July 1, 2012.


MxMIndia’s Shruti Pushkarna spoke to Mr Neeraj Sanan, EVP- Marketing and Distribution, MCCS to get his response on the Tariff Order and Interconnection Regulations for the Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems issued by TRAI.


What’s your first response to the Tariff Order? Specifically the MCCS position?

It is a reaffirmation of the government’s stated position and something that TRAI has been working towards for a long time.


The TRAI observes that the Order will help profitability of channels. But carriage fee exists. Do you think your bottomline will be impacted in a positive way with this?

The TRAI’s order will help all stakeholders move to a position of working in a structured manner. A well-run business can hope to get its deserved profit.


Do you see the implementation happening in the four metros before July 1?

I understand that a lot of intelligent people in well-run MSO and LCO organizations are working round the clock to make it happen. A key factor here will be for the government to continue to do what it has been saying. We shall all have to brace ourselves to a large surge in operational logistics at the last minute, but yes all this is surmountable.


What are the marketing initiatives you are undertaking to ensure that you retain viewers?

This is a challenge more for a distributor.


Do you think the government is doing enough to promote the switch to digitization and explain the benefits to consumers?

There is always something better we could do, but yes, government has been consistent in it’s thought. Now it is for all stakeholders, including all state governments to realize the prudence of digitization and work together to make it happen.


Are there any areas of worry in the run-up to digitization (given that we have just 60 days to go)?

No constructive business happens without risk and yes there are a lot of things that could go awry but if all players remain aligned, this is achievable. We should all realize that it is history being written everyday for distribution and we need to carefully tread this path.


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