The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) has released its ‘Digital Vision: India in 2012’ report, which provides an overview of the still unrealised opportunities for the rapid development of India’s digital broadband and television industries.
The report speaks about the exponential growth of India’s cable TV sector, the country’s unique asset of huge network available, and the huge opportunities. It has also mentioned the obstacles to achieving a substantial growth in the industry.
According to the report, digital television and broadband networks would play a vital role in India’s economic development and national competitiveness. As private investment pours into high-speed digital capacity for cable TV – both in the major urban areas and in the country’s massive rural areas – the benefits for consumers and the economy alike would be enormous, the report said.
However, to ensure this growth potential was reached, policy-makers must stay true to the course and systematically implement ‘lighter touch’ regulations appropriate for the digital age that would allow the creation of a world-class digital infrastructure, it added.
Pointing out some of the weaknesses, the report said that India’s Draconian limits on both pricing and packaging for video services were affecting the entire industry value-chain, with an adverse impact on investment in digital infrastructure and content availability, as well as on economic growth generally.
Content regulation was necessary everywhere to ensure that free-to-air broadcast met contemporary community standards. However, pay-TV is increasingly differentiated to reflect the individual’s role in selecting the channels viewable in a given household and the different modes of content delivery. The most successful systems of content regulation incorporate differentiated standards for these various delivery modes of content delivery.
“India’s unique asset is the large scale of cable TV reach, country’s leading wireline network. India knows how to mobilise huge flows of private capital. The huge opportunities in India are that by 2012 about 100 million homes are expected to be on cable TV network. A vibrant TV market could stimulate digital development and bring a spectacular choice of new content to Indians,” said John Medeiros, Deputy CEO, CASBAA.
India needs upgrading, huge investments and a supportive even handed regulation for the digital age.
CASBAA’s comparative study of pay TV regulation found India’s practices to be among the most restrictive in Asia. An Indian expert panel rated India’s environment as lacking on issues from rate regulation to programming supply.
CASBAA mooted a lighter touch regulatory system that would benefit the digital growth hugely. Differentiation between types of content and consumers is particularly important. It is the more affluent, younger, early adopters who drive new content and new investments.
The report notes that the phenomenal advantage of India’s rapid cable TV growth is at risk of being eroded by overly intrusive regulations. “The industry in India is looking for ‘lighter-touch’ regulation appropriate for the creation of a world-class digital infrastructure as well as broadband take-up,” said Twiston Davies, CEO, CASBAA.