For Manish Tewari, his six months as the Information & Broadcasting Minister has been about learning a lot on the job. As he candidly admits, “When I assumed the post of Minster for Information and Broadcasting last year in October, I didn’t know the ‘D’ of digitisation.” He further said that there was immense pressure to postpone the deadline for digitisation, but he understood that if he relaxed the deadline, the message would go out that this Minister could be “pushed around”, and he couldn’t let that happen.
Commenting on the current scenario, Tewari noted that currently there is lack of clarity in the broadcasting fraternity regarding issues such as ad cap, carriage fees, TRPs, self-regulation, inter connect agreement and so on.
He remarked, “A viable measurement system for assessing the audience tastes and preferences would enable the broadcasting industry to position sustainable revenue models.”
He stressed that the broadcasting industry needs to initiate immediate steps for setting up the BARC mechanism. The digitisation process had created a model wherein the given database emerging from the process can be analysed and expanded exponentially.
He further said, “The Government is willing to share data with an industry created body. This body, in turn, could utilise the data for use in the public space.”
Allaying broadcasters’ fears regarding advertising regulations, Tewari maintained, “If there is anyone who is under the mistaken impression that we play good cop-bad cop with TRAI and ask the regulator to step up on your tail and then offer sympathy, let me dispel such notions.”
Tewari further said that his Ministry understood that the digitisation process is still unfolding in the country and hence, it will take time for the landscape to settle down and for subscription revenues to start kicking in, so that an alternate revenue stream develops.
Turning his attention towards regulation, he remarked, “Content regulation in the media space is not going to come out of political executives, but will come out of the judicial process.”
“Maybe time has come up for the industry to consider whether there is need for a separate broadcasting authority on the techno-commercial side. The reason why we are not suggesting this is because whenever we have made such suggestions in the past, the industry has felt that we want to regulate content,” he added.
Manish Tewari was sharing his views at the 4th CEO Roundtable on Broadcast, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi on April 18, 2013.