Recently the 15th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) was held in New Delhi with the key agenda of appointing the Board of Directors for the next term (Uday Shankar elected as President of The Indian Broadcasting Foundation). Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India has been elected once again as the Foundation’s President, followed by Punit Goenka, CEO, ZEEL, as Vice President – Distribution, Rajat Sharma, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, India TV as Vice President – Strategic Affairs and Rahul Johri, Executive VP and Senior GM, Head of Revenue, Pan-Regional Ad Sales and Southeast Asia as Treasurer.
As a new chapter for the IBF begins, all eyes are on the television broadcasting body which is expected to push for the necessary changes that the industry is in need of. We spoke to broadcasters about the problems they believe should the IBF should tackle.
A majority of broadcasters brought forth the issue of the final phases of digitisation. Commenting on this Ashish Sehgal, Chief Sales Officer, ZEEL said, “The biggest problem the industry is facing right now is digitisation. An assurance that the process is on track should be the main agenda for the IBF. Faster implementation is what we need.”
The final date for Phase III and IV of digitization recently had been pushed back by the Ministry of Information and Broadcast to December 31, 2015.
Carriage fees have always been a bane of television broadcasting companies and the industry has been in a constant battle with cable operators.
S K Barua, CEO, Food Food, agreed to this, adding, “The amount of carriage fees we have to pay as a result of the delay in digitisation process is killing the industry.”
10+2 ad cap
According to another broadcaster who wished on anonymity, apart from faster digitisation, there are other problems that the IBF should address. One of them being the 10+2 ad cap that he said was crippling the revenues of TV channels by limiting the ad inventory. “Another issue I wish to put forth is that sampling numbers for the ratings should be higher as it currently does not give an accurate reading of viewership,” he added.
Waiting for BARC
First expected to come into effect in October this year, the deadline for the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) has been pushed behind by six more months. This has brought some level of distress to broadcasters who were hoping that the data will be out by the end of this year. Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India in earlier interview to exchange4media, had said the delay is due to statistical sampling and data processing. The delay comes at a price for broadcasters as they have been pumping in money. “The broadcasters are pumping in about Rs 100 crore in the technology adaptation towards our watermarking embedders. This is over and above their contribution towards BARC funding,” said Dasgupta in the same interview.
TV broadcasters and distributors have been in conflict with each other which has caused distribution issues. The most recent is the one between Hathway Cable & Datacom (Hathway) and Taj Television the distribution arm of ZEEL regarding differences in the fixed fee agreement between both the parties resulting in Taj Television discontinuing the signals to all ZEEL and Turner International channels to Hathway. There are also claims by Taj Television of outstanding dues that have been not been by Hathway. TDSAT is still hearing out the dispute and trying to put an end to it. Apart from this Star India and Hathway are at each other regarding the issue of under declaration of subscriber numbers. These issues with MSO operators have been affecting TV broadcasters a lot recently.
Rohit Gupta, President, Multi Screen Media concluded regarding the issues faced by TV broadcasters by saying, “These are issues which the industry has been facing for a long time and is not something new. Collectively we have to work together to push the government to solve it, but the government too has its limitations and we have to work within those limitations.”