The Union government will shortly initiative a broadcast regulation act to improve and regulate the television content space. Besides, the Union information & broadcasting ministry has proposed uplinking, down-linking and DTH guidelines for satellite television, which are awaiting the Cabinet's approval.
Talking on the broadcasting sector at a conference organised by Indiantelevision.com, SK Arora, additional secretary, I&B, said television content remains a matter of prime concern for the ministry, as it is unregulated and fast changing due to the entry of foreign channels.
This is turning out to be a threat as there is no check at the entry level of the market. Also, due to different regulatory regimes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to regulate the environment at each stage from content creation to transmission, and finally to content delivery.
Talking about the introduction of the conditional access system, he said, “We are awaiting the court's decision.” On radio, Mr Arora said that with both foreign and domestic players making a beeline for FM broadcasting, there are immense growth opportunities in the segment. Hence, the government has decided to revise the radio licensing policy to close tenders from the open option. The licence fee, too, will be on a revenue-sharing basis.
Another initiative is community radio that will increase rural penetration. At present it is in its nascent stage but with a more liberal regime expected after the Cabinet nod, it is expected to grow rapidly. Currently there are 13 community radio stations with educational institutions taking the lead, he added. Presenting the SWOT analysis of the Indian TV industry, Mr Arora said there are technological options like broad band, mobile telephony, digitalisation of cable and direct-to-home (DTH) to reach the audiences.
Though broad band has least penetration, mobile telephony has been picking up quickly and has the capacity to reach audiences even in remote areas. The ratio of ad spend-to-GDP in India is just 0.17%, which is relatively low when compared to other countries. However, one cannot compare the ad spend of the Indian television industry with countries like Hong Kong and Singapore because they are very small in size, Mr Arora said.