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TV channel honchos discuss woes with govt

12-October-2004
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TV channel honchos discuss woes with govt

Representatives of television channels, both pay and free to air, Indian and foreign, met information and broadcasting secretary Navin Chawla here on Monday, to talk about issues related to the industry. Their concerns ranged anything from level-playing field in taxes to customs duty on equipment, piracy to digitisation of cable TV, news channel content to downlinking policy, according to sources.

Broadcasters have been split over the recent recommendations on direct-to-home, issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

As per TRAI recommendations, channels must provide their content to all distribution platforms, including cable and DTH. But, some broadcasters point out that mandatory-sharing of content is not a practical solution and is rare in the global market.

But TRAI chairman Pradip Baijal had made it clear that there was no place for ‘exclusivity’. Consumer interest is of utmost importance, he had said last week.

The I&B secreatry indicated to top officials of the channels on Monday that Trai had done a good job and that government was scrutinising the recommendations para by para, sources told FE.

Another interface between Mr Chawla and broadcasters is expected in the next six weeks or so.

Mr Chawla is learnt to have told broadacsters that a downlinking policy was being readied.

Also, he sought the assistance of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) for information on digitisation of cable TV. TRAI is already working on the digitisation project.

Among the channels represented at the meeting were Star, Zee, Sony, ESPN, BBC, Sahara and Discovery.

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