The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has started receiving fresh applications for uplinking/ downlinking of TV channels from April 1. It may be recalled that in January this year, MIB had announced that it had suspended considering the pending or new applications with the Ministry regarding uplinking and downlinking of TV channels in India. The decision followed the Government’s concern over the availability of spectrum in the sky along with the space on transponders.
For this purpose, MIB had approached the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to provide its recommendations. TRAI has released the consultation paper on the issues marked by the MIB and awaits views and comments from the stakeholders in the industry.
Speaking on this decision of the Government, Anjan Mitra, Executive Director-India, CASBAA (Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia), said, “We have noted publication of the MIB notice dated March 31. The promise of a return to an orderly and predictable channel licensing process is greatly welcomed. CASBAA also looks forward to participating in the TRAI consultation process, and will contact MIB to obtain information about its further intentions.”
When contacted, Jawahar Goel, President, IBF (Indian Broadcasting Foundation), commented, “The industry needs to understand this issue precisely. Not all news channels are making profit in the country. Broadcasters scream about carriage fees, still there are people who complain that their application for a new channel did not get approved. I believe that the Government has not been able to interact with the media and could not handle this issue properly.”
Now, MIB, while considering fresh applications, will take into consideration the financial viability of the proposal as also the level of expertise and experience of the personnel who will be charged with the responsibility of running the channels by the promoters. On these new guidelines Goel said that it was a very good decision by the Government. He added, “In our country, politicians, builders or any person who has money, starts a news channel and later on, employees associated with the organisation complain about their salary because the channel does not get profits. The new registration process should be more transparent and fast.”