A combination of four factors, has worked together to delay the government plans of issuing guidelines on the Direct-to-Home (DTH) TV service. The four reasons behind the delay in issuing DTH guidelines include the top-level changes in the I&B Ministry, time spent on the FTV controversy, law ministry seeking clarification on some issues, and the government wanting to discuss the guidelines with key broadcasters of the country.
Even as the Cabinet cleared the DTH draft way back in October2000 and the Information & Broadcasting Ministry was ready with the exhaustive norms by early January 2001, the government is yet to issue the DTH guidelines.
According to the I&B Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj, the controversy over the French fashion channel FTV kept the officials in the ministry so busy in the recent days that there was no time left for DTH. It all began with monitoring of the channel after the ministry received complaints of ``obscene'' contents in it.
But the real reason behind the delay in issuing DTH guidelines is the top-level government changes. First, a new I&B secretary Mr. Pawan Chopra took over after Mr. Y N Chaturvedi retired from the post. Soon enough, there was another change: Mr. Anil Baijal (also the PrasarBharati CEO) was appointed the new additional secretary, replacing Mr. R RShah. As a result, the DTH files got held up at several levels.
The third reason behind the delay is that the Law Ministry sought some clarifications on the regulatory clauses of DTH. It took the I&B Ministry some time to issue the required clarifications. Finally and significantly, the government wanted to consult the top broadcasters of the country on the DTH norms before issuing the guidelines.
Till the time these guidelines are issued, companies interested in participating in the DTH platform cannot apply for a licence. Since it would take companies a minimum of one year, after getting a licence, to set up the DTH platform, a delay at this stage could upset the plans of many prospective parties.