12 Oct,2012


By Shruti Pushkarna


Digitization in the four metros is less than 20 days away. But what exactly does it mean, and why this usage of the term Sunset Date. What does ARPU mean and why is COFI spelt without an extra F and two Es?


Here’s The A-Z of Digitization… terms explained and contextualized.



Average revenue per user or average revenue per unit is an expression of the income generated by a typical subscriber or device per unit time per month or per year. The ARPU provides an indication of the effectiveness with which revenue-generating potential is exploited. It is the amount of money, on average, that a company brings in for each of its customers.



Addressability is the ability of a digital device to individually respond to a message sent to many similar devices. Examples include pagers, mobile phones, and set-top boxes. Addressability is the process by which (optionally encrypted) messages are sent from the cable provider for a particular cable box via the cable signal. The cable company can “address” a particular customer’s cable box to command it to activate or deactivate the descrambling of selected premium or pay-per view channels.



With the deadline approaching, the apex body of advertising agencies has naturally got active. If digitization is not 100 percent, the advertisers they represent will have reason to feel cheated if the government bans transmission of analogue signals.



Analogue television is the analogue transmission that involves the broadcasting of encoded analog audio and analog video signal, one in which the message conveyed by the broadcast signal is a function of deliberate variations in the amplitude and/or frequency of the signal. All broadcast television systems preceding digital transmission of digital television were systems utilizing analog signals. Analog television may be wireless or can require copper wire used by cable converters.



With reference to offering of a TV channel, a-la-carte means offering the channel individually on a standalone basis.



An electronic device (which includes hardware and its associated software) or more than one electronic devices put in an integrated system through which signals of cable television network can be sent in encrypted form, which can be decoded by the device or devices, having an activated Conditional Access System at the premises of the subscriber within the limits of authorization made, through the Conditional Access System and the subscriber management system, on the explicit choice and request of such subscriber, by the cable operator to the subscriber.



Soon after she came to power in 2010, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa set up a government-owned cable service called Arasu to counter the dominance of Sun. The digitization in Chennai rests on how many set-top boxes Arasu is able to install in the next few weeks.



A person or a group of persons, or body corporate, or any organization or body providing programming services and includes his or its authorized distribution agencies.



The amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time. For digital devices, the bandwidth is usually expressed in bits per second (bps) or bytes per second. For analog devices, the bandwidth is expressed in cycles per second, or Hertz.



Short for Broadcast Audience Research Council, a body being set up jointly by the broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies with the blessings of the government. Mandated to govern audience research (very specifically measurement), it’s taken some five years to set up given the complexity of its operations and ownership.



Basic Service Tier means a package of free to air channels to be offered by a cable operator to a subscriber with an option to subscribe, for a single price to subscribers of the area in which his cable television network is providing services.



Bouquet or bouquet of channels means an assortment of distinct channels offered together as a group or as a bundle. MediaPro – owned by Star India and Zee Entertainment is the biggest.



Any person who provides cable service through a cable television network or otherwise controls or is responsible for the management and operation of a cable television network and fulfils the prescribed eligibility criteria and conditions.



Carriage fee has been defined as any fee paid by a broadcaster to a distributor of TV channels, for carriage of the channels or bouquets of channels of that broadcaster on the distribution platform owned or operated by such distributor of TV channels, without specifying the placement of various channels of the broadcaster vis-à-vis channels of other broadcasters.



Cable Operators Federation of India is a national level, registered, non-profit organization with head office in New Delhi with its executive members spread-out all over India and with membership of more than 23,000 cable operators (Delhi alone accounts for 1200). COFI was founded in August 1993 with the primary aim of forming a unified body to represent Indian cable operators at national and international levels and with the strong determination to unite all State Associations and bring them under one powerful representation.



Digitization is the process of converting information into a digital format (also referred to as digitalization). In this format, information is organized into discrete units of data called bits that can be separately addressed (usually in multiple-bit groups called bytes). Audio and video digitization uses one of many analog-to-digital conversion processes in which a continuously variable (analog) signal is changed, without altering its essential content, into a multi-level (digital) signal.



Direct to Home operator means an operator licensed by the Central Government to distribute multi channel TV programmes in Ku band by using a satellite system directly to subscriber’s premises without passing through intermediary such as cable operator or any other distributor of TV channels.



In this model, all the channels, whether Free-to-air or Pay, are delivered in the addressable-digital form only. This is akin to the DTH model. Not only is content carried in digital form, all content, whether pay or FTA, is also encrypted. The subscriber necessarily requires a Set Top Box (STB), duly authorized by the service provider (MSO), to view the TV channels. The same STB can also be used for the reception of other value added services and interactive services such as broadband.



Direct to Home service means distribution of multi channel TV programmes by using a satellite system by providing TV signals directly to subscriber’s premises without passing through intermediary such as cable operator or any other distributor of TV channels.



Television and radio programmes distributed by satellite for reception via a dish at the receiver’s property.



Encrypted: in respect of a signal of cable television network, means the changing of such signal in a systematic way so that the signal would be unintelligible without use of an addressable system and the expression ‘unencrypted’ shall be construed accordingly.



Evasion is what the cable is said to be indulging in. It is believed that cable television service is prone to tax and revenue evasion by under reporting of client base by cable operators.



An extension of deadline is what folks in Chennai and Kolkata are seeking. Political compulsions may well force the government to give in, but the answer lies beyond the I&B Ministry offices in Shastri Bhavan. 10 Janpath perhaps?



Free-to-air channel: in respect of a cable television network, means a channel for which no subscription fee is to be paid by the cable operator to the broadcaster for its retransmission on cable.



Foreign direct investment is investment of foreign assets into domestic structures, equipment, and organizations. With respect to cable television, Foreign investment limit is the cap put on FDI in cable television by the central government.



An acronym that stands for General Entertainment channels in India. This includes entertainment channels in Hindi, English and regional languages. Some examples would be – in no specific order – Star Plus, Zee TV, Colors, Sony Entertainment Television etc. English GECs would be Star World, Zee Cafe etc.



Headend in the sky operator means any person permitted by the Central Government to distribute multi channel TV programmes in C band or Ku band by using a satellite system, to intermediaries like cable operators and not directly to subscribers; and by using its own cable network, if any, to the subscribers of such cable network through Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) set top boxes, after first downlinking the signals at its terrestrial receiving station; and provide passive infrastructure facilities like transponder space on satellite, earth station facilities, etc. to one or more multi-system operators or to any consortium of multi-system operators or cable operators, for distribution of multi channel TV programmes in C band or Ku band through QAM set top boxes, using such infrastructure facilities.



High-definition video or HD video refers to any video system of higher resolution than standard-definition (SD) video, and most commonly involves display resolutions of 1,280×720 pixels (720p) or 1,920×1,080 pixels (1080i/1080p). High definition is the top-level resolution offered within the digital television category. Digital cable comes in three formats – standard, enhanced, and high definition.



The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is a branch of the Government of India, an apex body for formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws relating to information, broadcasting, the press and films in India. The Ministry is responsible for the administration of Prasar Bharati-the broadcasting arm of the Indian Government. The Censor Board of India is the other important body under this ministry being responsible for the regulation of motion pictures shown in India. As of May 2009, the head of the ministry, Minister of Information and Broadcasting is Cabinet Minister, Ambika Soni (I&B Ministry is also referred to as MIB).



The Indian Broadcasting Federation is the trade association of broadcasters. Most broadcasters are members. Digitization impacts its members… right now in the four metros and soon the rest of the country.



That ISA follows the IBF in the list is coincidental. Jokes apart, the Society represents the interests of advertisers who, in the Indian context, pay for all of us getting the content. The ISA, is rightfully, concerned about that if digitization is not 100 percent, advertisers will feel cheated if the government bans transmission of analogue signals.



IPTV or Internet Protocol television service means delivery of multi channel TV programmes in addressable mode by using Internet Protocol over a closed network of one or more service providers. As a technology it hasn’t really taken off in India even by those who have high-end computers and high-speed data connectivity.



An integrated receiver/decoder  is an electronic device used to pick-up a radio-frequency signal and convert digital information transmitted in it. Commonly found in radio, television, Cable and satellite broadcasting facilities, the IRD is generally used for the reception of contribution feeds that are intended for re-broadcasting. The IRD is the interface between a receiving satellite dish or Telco networks and a broadcasting facility video/audio infrastructure.



June 30, 2012 was the (first) deadline set by the government for a complete switch over from analog to digital cable television in four metros, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. Post June 30, all analogue was expected to be switched off. The new deadline set by the govt is October 31.



The Ku band (Kurtz-under band)  is a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum in the microwave range of frequencies ranging from 11.7 to 12.7GHz. (downlink frequencies) and 14 to 14.5GHz (uplink frequencies). The Ku band is primarily used for satellite communications, particularly for editing and broadcasting satellite television.



Acronym for Local Cable Operator. The role of the LCO in the supply chain is to receive a feed (bundled signals) from the Multi system operator (MSO) and retransmit this to subscribers in his area through cables.



Like it or not, it’s not set-top boxes which will finally decide when digitization will actually happen in Kolkata… it’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Sigh.



See I&B Ministry



Multi-System Operator: means a cable operator who has been granted registration under rule 11 of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, as amended by rule 8 of the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules 2012, and who receives a programming service from a broadcaster or its authorized agencies and re-transmits the same or transmits his own programming service for simultaneous reception either by multiple subscribers directly or through one or more local cable operators and includes his authorized distribution agencies, by whatever name called.



Trade association of the MSOs



The News Broadcasters Association or the NBA is the apex body of news broadcasters in India. Given the nature of their business and specific demands, a key stakeholder amongst broadcasters.



Means the officer appointed or designated by the multi-system operator or his linked local cable operator, as the case may be under regulation 8 of the regulations.



Dawn of a new era. For the rest: see October 31st



October 31, 2012 is the new deadline set by the government for a complete switch over from analogue to digital cable television in four metros, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. From November 1, 2012 all analogue is expected to be switched off.



In respect of a digital addressable system, means a channel for which subscription fees is to be paid to the broadcaster by multi-system operator or DTH operator or IPTV operator or HITS operator and due authorization needs to be taken from the broadcaster for its re-transmission on the digital addressable system.



Any fee paid by a broadcaster to a distributor of TV channels, for placement of the channels of such broadcaster vis-à-vis channels of other broadcasters on the distribution platform owned or operated by such distributor of TV channels.



Acronym for Quality of Services, which are the benchmarks for various parameters laid down by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for the service provided to the viewers. Quality of Services may be defined as the collective effect of service performance which determines the degree of satisfaction of a user of the service



The rupee symbol. It’s revenues that everyone is looking for.



The all-important ratings. TRPs (or Television Rating Points) is now part of the average Indian’s vocabulary. There is a dispute about TAM’s measurement process, but there can be no denying the need for ratings for advertisers to be able to figure how and where monies should be put.



Service Provider: means the Government as a service provider and includes a licensee as well as any broadcaster, direct to home operator, HITS operator, multi-system operator, cable operator or distributor of TV channels.



Written variously, but ideally hyphenated, these are boxes that help your television set ‘read’ the digital signals that come from your broadcaster via a cable or DTH operator. Abbreviated STB.



It was the  first private satellite broadcaster in the country and it’s also the most popular pan-India given the channels it has. Other than broadcasting, also has interests in bouquet (MediaPro) and DTH (Tata Sky). Exited its interest in MSO Hathway recently.



The most vital part of the cog in the wheel. With packages and a la carte services on offer, revenues from subscribers could well lead to greater transparency in the system.



The undisputed leader in South India, but although its DTH business has spread to other parts of the country, it’s domination doesn’t extend beyond South India. Often impacted by political affiliations.



A commonly used term for the scheduled date for a phasing out of operations. Here’s the Wikipedia definition: In public policy, a sunset provision or clause is a measure within a statute, regulation or other law that provides that the law shall cease to have effect after a specific date, unless further legislative action is taken to extend the law. Most laws do not have sunset clauses and therefore remain in force indefinitely. (Verb: sunseted)



The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is the independent regulator of the telecommunications business in India.



Television Audience Measurement or TAM Media Research is a joint venture company between AC Nielsen and Kantar Media Research/IMRB. It is one of the television Audience measurement analysis firms of India. Besides measuring television viewership, TAM also monitors advertising expenditure through its division AdEx India. It exists in the PR Monitoring space through another division – Eikona PR Monitor. There has been a legal tangle that TAM has been involved with along with its co-owners. There are also many broadcasters (Bloomberg TV being the latest) who have been questioning the processes TAM follows for measurement.



Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal was established to adjudicate disputes and dispose of appeals with a view to protect the interests of service providers and consumers of the telecom sector and to promote and ensure orderly growth of the telecom sector.



A schedule of rates and charges applied by a business, especially a common carrier, together with a description of the services offered and the rules and regulations applicable.



Terrestrial channels are those that you can receive via a normal aerial. These are currently being switched off as the Digital Switchover reaches all over the country.



Or the lack of it. Widescale under-reporting of the number of subscribers by the cable trade is said to be one reason why broadcasters are so dependant on advertising as the source of revenue. Digitization could help lead to greater – if not total – transparency.



Uplinking refers to the transmission of a signal via a satellite from one terrestrial location to another location and then ultimately the signal can be distributed to the end users.



Value-added Services refers to advanced or additional services a content provider (network operator) offers to possibly increase their revenues, or make their offering more competitive. VAS type services might include e-mail, Internet access, text messaging, enhanced TV, video on demand, teleshopping, communal gaming, TV Mosaics, interactive advertising and subscription gaming.



The all-important requirement metric… not just for revenues, but also for feedback on content. Also see: Ratings



From amongst all the broadcasters in the Indian space, the 20-year-old Zee TV at the helm is by far one of the most influential players in the space. Chairman Subhash Chandra is still one of the most influential players in Indian broadcast.


Post a Comment 

2 responses to “The A-Z of DIGITIZATION”

  1. Keshav Thanvi says:

    This is really very useful and rare kind of collection on digitization. I have interest in the topic and got many essential references from the content. Many thanks for leaving such collection in summarized manner. God Bless you !!!

  2. Himanshu Agarwal says:

    This is a good compilation. Will appreciate if the same is also made available as a downloadable PDF. It may be difficult to find this resource on a later date if needs to refer.
    Appreciate the effort to put the glosaary together.