The government has decided to rework the policy regarding direct-to-home (DTH) telecast, including a review of the norms on foreign direct investment, cross-media holding, government regulation of content and sharing of content by companies.
According to sources, the move has been necessitated by the recent developments in the sector.
These include a case recently filed in the Delhi High Court demanding content regulation as viewers are accessing pornographic material through DTH services and the refusal by some companies to offer their channels to the country’s sole DTH operator, the Subhash Chandra-promoted ASC Enterprises.
The government has set up a panel headed by Information and Broadcasting Secretary Navin Chawla to review the DTH policy framework.
The government had banned DTH services in the country in 1997, when Jaipal Reddy, the current information and broadcasting minister, held the same portfolio in the HD Deve Gowda Cabinet. The present DTH norms were drafted in 2000.
The move by the government comes at a time when ASC Enterprises has started its service and Space TV, the Tata-Star joint venture, is awaiting approval to start its service.
As per norms, the total foreign investment in a DTH company cannot exceed 49 per cent and the share of foreign direct investment has been limited to 20 per cent.
“The issue of FDI needs a relook. We are examining ways to straighten the rules,” said a senior government official.
Currently, there are no regulations regarding content on DTH. But this could change.
“We will have to look at the issue of content very closely. Besides, in view of the new downlinking policy, we will have to look at the content on DTH platforms also,” the official added.
Besides, the government is also in favour of interconnection of DTH channels, wherein companies offer channels on competitive DTH platforms. The government has also asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to formulate its view on content sharing by channels.