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Broadcasting policies need relook

31-March-2001
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Broadcasting policies need relook

Discontent was the mood at the discussion on the regulatory framework for broadcasting at the FICCI meet on Friday. While Amit Baijal, CEO, Prasar Bharti highlighted the policy advancements in broadcasting he also accepted the fact that a lot of policies needed a relook and need to keep abreast of the current times.

The other speakers of the day - R K Singh, CEO, Zee Telefilms; Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, Sony Entertainment Television; Kiran Karnik, CEO, Discovery Channel; and Bhuvan Lall, executive director, IBF -- expressed similar doubts and concerns on the policy front.

First it was Singh, who brought out the differences between the international and Indian broadcasting regulations. "India is perhaps one of the few countries, which will see the emergence of all the three platforms of broadcasting - satellite, cable and wireless - in a short span of 5-6 years.

Most of the developed countries have seen these technologies develop over decades. At the same time, when it comes to the penetration levels of any of the existing technologies, we are nowhere near the developed countries.

Thus there is need to give an impetus to the policy framework, rather than talking about monopolisation in the market place. The size of the pie is so small currently, that there is no question about monopoly situation", said Singh.

Karnik supported Singh's views by bringing out the nuances in the Convergence Bill, which could be the cause of concern for the broadcasters. He said that there was an issue of attitude, which made government resort to licensing or registration of content. He also pointed out to certain vague terms used in the Bill like Indian culture, public order and morality.

He ended his speech with a note of discontent on the delay in the implementation of the Convergence Bill and also suggested that the government should take concerted efforts to regulate the industry in absence of the Bill.

Kunal Dasgupta's speech was peppered with criticism on the existing DTH policies. "First of all DTH can only be successful if it provides something more to the audience - so there has to be internet, gaming, radio along with DTH. DTH has to be a full fledged multimedia product and this can happen only if the Convergence Bill is in place," said Dasgupta.

He further added that the sectoral caps on capital investment and the lack of efforts to project DTH as a convergence platform would be detrimental to the industry and would make DTH a non-starter.

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