Think aloud for a Broadcast Regulator: Manish Tewari

22 Apr,2013

By A Correspondent


Manish Tewari

Reiterating the government’s commitment for smooth cable TV digitization and protecting consumer interests, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari has asked the broadcast industry to ‘think aloud’ for a separate broadcast regulator.


Speaking at the 4th CII CEOs’ roundtable on broadcast, the minister mooted the idea of a ‘techno-commercial’ regulator for the broadcast sector, which is witnessing rapid changes in the wake of cable TV digitization. He also made it clear that content will not be regulated by the government.


Mr Tewari said that a viable measurement system for assessing audience tastes and preferences would enable the broadcasting industry to position sustainable revenue models. The broadcasting industry needed to initiate immediate steps for setting up the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), he said, adding that the digitization process had created a model where the given database emerging from the process could be analyzed and expanded exponentially. The government was willing to provide this data to an industry-created body. This body in turn could utilize the data for use in the public space. The initiation of this industry-led process would ensure a two-way flow of information necessary for analyzing advertising trends and models.


KVL Narayan Rao, Executive Vice Chairperson, NDTV Ltd outlined how for some broadcasters, carriage fees remains burdensome and subscription revenues are not forthcoming as yet. “Issues such as TRAI regulation on 12-minute ad cap are the issues that need to be deliberated upon,” he said.


Elaborating further, the Mr Tewari said that there had to be a balance between the evolution of technology and the regulatory architecture. In view of the changes taking place in the broadcasting space, a discussion was necessary within the industry regarding the need of a regulator on techno-commercial grounds. Referring to the digitization mechanism, he said that all stakeholders had to ensure that they work together for creating an enabling environment. “This is critical in view of the consumer being the biggest stakeholder and end-beneficiary. The government is aware of the needs of the consumer and desires that the whole process of implementation ought to be done causing the least pain to the biggest beneficiary, ie the consumer. Digitization as a process has to be viewed as a game changer as far as the media landscape in this country is concerned, as benefits will accrue to all the stakeholders involved and each plays a vital role in the growth of the industry,” he said.


In a major relief to broadcast channels, Mr Tewari maintained that a solution would be brought about to the TRAI’s recent regulation barring television channels from telecasting more than 12 minutes of advertisements every hour. He said the broadcast landscape is changing in the country with digitization, and this issue of fixing time slots for advertisements will be taken up at an appropriate time. He also expressed concern over the TAM TRP data and said that the BARC should be created at the earliest.


Uday Kumar Varma, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, said that the entire exercise of digitization was to bring out a transparent mechanism, credible subscriber data and finally ensure that the dividends of digitization reach the end consumers. “We have discarded a system which was not transparent and are moving towards a system which has to be transparent,” he said.


The government favoured domestic manufacturing and deployment of set-top box and may also consider fixing certain percentage (for domestic manufacturers) for reaching out to the next 50 million consumers in the subsequent phases of digitization, Mr Varma said, and requested domestic set-top box manufactures to match up with quality, price, and competitive standards as acceptable to MSOs.


The ministry is also looking at the status of channel aggregators, in the wake of queries on their ‘legal status’ in the digitization process.


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