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MIB grants new TV channel licences to Star India, Viacom18

Both the companies have got four licences each

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Published: Aug 23, 2021 8:33 AM  | 4 min read

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The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has granted fresh TV channel licences to Disney-owned Star India and Viacom18 Media. Both the companies have got four TV channel licences each.

Viacom18 has received the licences under dummy channel names like Connected, Eco-Lution, My Cam, and Pick-A-Trick. The licences were awarded on June 10, 2021. It is pertinent to note that there is strong buzz in the media industry about Mukesh Ambani-backed Network18's entry into sports broadcasting. Network18, through its subsidiary TV18, owns a majority stake in Viacom18.

Star India, which had put all channel expansion on hold due to New Tariff Order (NTO) 2.0, has got the MIB nod to launch Odia GEC Star Kirano and Star Kirano HD. The company's subsidiary Asianet Star Communications has got the licences to launch HD versions of Vijay Super and Asianet Movies. The licences were issued on July 19, 2021.

In April 2020, Star India had deferred the launch of Vijay Music, Star Sports 3 HD, Star Gold 2 HD, Star Movies Select and Disney Channel HD. The company had also planned to rebrand Hindi movie channel Movies OK as Star Gold 2 with effect from February 1, 2020.

Besides the fresh licences, Star and Viacom18 have also got approvals to rename existing licences. Star has got the MIB nod to launch Star Sports 1 Tamil HD in place of Star World. There have been rumours that Star India might shut down Star World, which is an English GEC.

The Disney-owned company has also got the approval to launch Star Gold Family in place of Star Utsav Movies. Earlier, the broadcaster had got the channel name of the licence renamed to Star Gold Romance. The broadcaster also has a separate licence under the name Star Gold Romance.

Viacom18 has got the licence under the channel name Rishtey Bhojpuri, renamed to Colors Cineplex Bollywood. The licence was originally procured under a dummy name BDM.

Queries sent to Star India and Viacom18 remained unanswered till the time of filing this report.

Apart from Star and Viacom18, Goldmines Telefilms had received three non-news licences namely Goldmines, Goldmines Hindi, and Goldmines Movies on 22nd July.

The ministry has also revoked several licences including that of China Global Television Network (CGTN), which was earlier known as CCTV News, Living Travelz, Sneha TV (earlier P7 News), Sarthi, Tak Dhina Din, THE MGM, and TV 7/TV3 Health Planet. In most cases, the licences were cancelled since they were not required any more.

CGTN is the Chinese government’s mouthpiece, which was being downlinked into India by Planetcast Media. The Living Travelz licence was owned by Living Entertainment Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., an Essel Group company.

Janvani Broadcasting Corporation owned and operated Sneha TV. The channel was earlier named P7 News. Sarthi was a non-news licence that was awarded to KCB Builders & Developers Pvt Ltd. The licence under the name Tak Dhina Din was granted to Krishna Showbiz Services, a company linked to Sri Adhikari Brothers group.

The MIB's list of cancelled channels states that MGM Programming Service India's licence to operate English movie channel MGM was revoked in March 2021. However, the channel had discontinued its operation in 2015. Comsat System's non-news licence TV 7/TV3 Health Planet was cancelled in July this year.

As of date, the MIB has granted 915 news and non-news licences to 357 companies. It has revoked licences of 347 channels.

Information & Broadcasting (I&B) minister Anurag Thakur had recently told the Rajya Sabha that 228 channels have been granted permission in the last five years. In FY21, the ministry had granted permission to 22 channels. He also said that 204 TV channels have ceased operations in the last five years due to various reasons, including non-fulfilment of conditions under the Uplinking/Downlinking guidelines.

As per the MIB's dashboard, it had only six pending licence applications in Q1 FY22, compared to 19 pending applications in Q1 FY21 and 95 pending applications in Q1 FY20. Applications with other ministries stood at 21 in Q1 FY22, compared to 40 in Q1 FY21 and 48 in Q1 FY20. The ministry permitted four new applications during the quarter under review, compared to 6 in Q1 FY21 and 47 in Q1 FY20.

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