TRAI buying time through deadline extension to clear NTO 2.0 mess?

From the fear of consumer backlash to UP elections, reasons why the regulator granted four months' time to the industry, according to stakeholders

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Published: Nov 12, 2021 8:29 AM  | 5 min read
TRAI

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has extended the deadline for implementing New Tariff Order (NTO) 2.0 to 1st April 2022 following requests from the broadcasters and distribution platform operators (DPOs). The new pricing declared by the broadcasters was expected to come into force from 1st December.

While the extra time frame provided by the regulator is laudable, broadcast sector stakeholders are questioning the real motive behind TRAI's decision to grant almost four months time to the industry. One industry source said that the TRAI had not provided so much time even when the original NTO was being implemented for the first time in 2019. Another source said that the regulator didn't want a consumer backlash considering the pricing declared by the broadcasters. A third source believes that the four-month extension indicates that the TRAI did not want any trouble so close to the high-stakes 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

According to a top-level executive from a media distribution firm, TRAI has avoided trouble by extending the implementation date. He added that the regulator didn't want any consumer backlash at a time when several key states including UP are slated to go to polls next year.

“Basically, the TRAI didn't want any disturbance till the UP elections, which is scheduled to take place next year. Otherwise, what's the point of giving so much time? TRAI didn't give so much even at the time of NTO 1.0 implementation. TRAI is buying time. Nobody knows what is going in their heads. They didn't want chaos in the next 20 days, so they have postponed it,” the executive said. 

“Anyone who buys time wants to look at some alternative measures. They will try to find a solution to this problem in the next four months. Right now, they are badly stuck in this NTO 2.0 quagmire. They cannot afford to implement NTO 2.0 with the kind of pricing that broadcasters have given.”
A senior official from the legal team of a broadcasting company said that these are incremental steps that TRAI is taking to come out of the NTO 2.0 mess. “The NTO 2.0 is far from implementation. Right now, only broadcasters have filed RIOs. Implementation will only happen when DPOs go to subscribers with their offerings and take the consumer choice. However, DPOs have told TRAI that they will not be able to implement NTO 2.0 because broadcasters have raised the prices. Since broadcaster RIOs are out, the DPOs will have to declare their prices. But what will they declare when they are unwilling to implement it?” the official said. 
While there is no change in TRAI's stance, the official said that the industry is hopeful that the regulator will take some corrective measures in the interest of the consumers. “So far, there is no change in TRAI's stance as far as NTO 2.0 is concerned, but the regulator will hold discussions with broadcasters and DPOs to find a way out of this situation. The industry is hopeful of some breakthrough as the present TRAI chairman PD Vaghela is much more receptive to suggestions. The TRAI also wants to keep its options open since the NTO 2.0 matter is also coming up for final hearing in the SC on 25th November,” he added.


The CEO of a leading cable TV company said that the TRAI has given enough time to the industry to migrate to NTO 2.0 regime. “DPOs will have to create their own offerings, educate the consumers about the new pricing, and get their choice. All of this needs time to implement. Consumers will get a choice to make a selection,” he stated.

He further stated that the price hike by broadcasters will compel subscribers to drop channels. “Unless broadcasters change their pricing, it will not be possible to bundle channels that are priced above Rs 12. If somebody does something which flouts the regulation, then it will lead to court cases. It's not possible to do deals with one broadcaster and ignore the other. Under NTO 2.0, we can't make bouquets with à la carte channels, even if we want to.”

The CEO also said that the TRAI cannot go back on NTO 2.0 having fought for its implementation in Bombay High Court and now in the Supreme Court. “It's not possible for TRAI to go back on NTO 2.0 implementation since it fought legally in the Bombay High Court and won the case. It has submitted affidavit in the Supreme Court in support of NTO 2.0. Now, it can't just turn around and say that all this was wrong, and we want to change it. NTO 2.0 will get modified only if there is an adverse verdict against TRAI in Supreme Court.”

Another senior official from a cable TV company said that the multi-system operators (MSOs) had asked for deferment of NTO 2.0 and not an extension. TRAI, he said, has extended the implementation date to prevent consumer backlash. He added that NTO 2.0 cannot be implemented in its current form as the prices will see huge inflation.

“We cannot afford to increase prices as our customers are going to OTT. Survival will become very difficult for cable TV service providers due to NTO 2.0. TV broadcasting sector has become over-regulated due to frequent interventions by TRAI. Today, a JioFiber customer will get all the OTT platforms and high-speed broadband service for just Rs 999 per month. This regulation will indirectly benefit telecom operators and OTT platforms. Broadcasters will also stand to gain since they can offer content through OTT, which is unregulated. The DPOs will end up losing customers to telcos and OTT. TRAI is behaving like a telecom regulator and treating the broadcasting sector like a stepchild,” he contended.

The official also said that TRAI makes regulations as per its whims and fancies and doesn't value any feedback from stakeholders. “Even DPOs had challenged NTO 2.0 in Kerala High Court. Unlike broadcasters, who have got pricing freedom on à la carte offerings, all the revenue streams of DPOs has a price cap whether it is Network Capacity Fee, carriage fee, or distribution margin.”

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Adani open offer ends: Total shareholding in NDTV at 37%

As per BSE data, the open offer garnered a subscription of 53,27,989 equity shares 

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 5, 2022 8:47 PM   |   1 min read

NDTV

Adani Media Networks has acquired an 8% additional stake in the open offer for NDTV. The company’s total shareholding now stands at 37% in NDTV, say media reports. 

On the last day of Adani Group's open offer on Monday, NDTV shares traded at a 5% lower circuit.

Vishvapradhan Commercial along with AMG Media Networks and Adani Enterprises launched the open offer to acquire an additional 26% stake in NDTV began on November 22 and was scheduled to close on December 5. The open offer did not fully subscribe, as per the latest update on BSE and NSE. Adani garnered around 58 lakh equity shares of NDTV which was not even half of the total size in the open offer.

As per BSE data, the open offer garnered a subscription of 53,27,989 equity shares accounting for 31.79% of the total offered size of over 1.67 crore equity shares. The data is updated till 4 pm on Monday.

On BSE, NDTV shares closed at ₹393.90 apiece down by 4.95%. During trading hours, the stock clocked its 5% lower circuit of ₹393.70 apiece. Its market cap is near ₹2,540 crore. Last week, on Friday, NDTV shares closed at ₹414.40 apiece.

NDTV stock opened on a broadly flat note at ₹413 a piece, however, picked momentum in early trading hours to reach an intraday high of ₹424 apiece but soon after corrected to drop to the lower circuit on BSE.

 

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Drop in startup advertising creating a dent in broadcasters' ad revenue?

Experts say GEC and sports genres have taken a bigger hit than others since new-age advertisers were heavy buyers of reality shows and sports

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 5, 2022 8:55 AM   |   5 min read

TV

The decline in startup funding across segments has had a cascading effect on TV broadcasters. After all, the new-age startups from segments like edtech, fintech, cryptocurrency, D2C brands, and e-commerce had emerged as one of the biggest advertisers on TV in the last two years.

Aided by record fund infusion from venture capitalists and private equity players in 2021, the tech startups had splurged advertising monies on TV channels to build their brands. Thanks to the reach provided by TV, new-age advertisers have become household names in the country. The TV broadcasters also gained big time as the new-age advertisers became top buyers of big-ticket properties like reality shows and cricket.

With start-up funding hitting an all-time low in the second half of CY2022 due to global inflation and geopolitical tensions, TV broadcasters are also facing the heat as startups are focussing on conserving cash by cutting down on discretionary expenses like advertising.

Sujata Dwibedy, chief investment officer, Amplifi, dentsu India, said TV's loss was digital and print media's gain as new-age categories started re-strategising their ad spends due to a funding crunch. She added that the edtech, pharma-tech, and even crypto brands had pulled back their ad spends.

"With the overall shrinking of liquidity, VC funding slowing down, and investment funding shrinking, there is increasing pressure on the startups to focus on the bottom line. Hence, they have started re-strategizing their ad spends. This has led to a drop in ad spends, especially on television. Especially, the key impact properties/ sports events that used to be oversold or blocked by these new brands and at any price have started getting rationalized. The big sports events in the H2 were also struggling to get advertisers this year," she stated.

Dwibedy noted that the traditional categories came to TV's rescue even as ad spending by new-age categories had seen a dip. "Thankfully, in addition to the e-commerce category, the traditional auto, two-wheelers, retail and even telecom for that matter bounced back. Realty and travel categories have also seen some amount of revival. TV did not see a huge drop, thanks to the existing categories which are always on, but the growth slowed down, and the categories which revived not only swung in the favour of digital but gave a boost to print media. In fact, during festivals, we saw two books getting published across lead publications," she added.

According to data sourced from TAM Media, the indexed average volume growth for new-age advertisers/start-ups on TV dropped by 11% in 2022 till October compared to 2021.

Senior ad sales executives from TV broadcasting companies say that the bigger impact of the cutback in ad spending by new-age advertisers was on the value of advertising and not the volume since these companies were big buyers of premium inventory.

"These brands didn't contribute much to ad volumes as traditional advertisers like FMCG still dominate TV advertising. The impact of the drop in ad spends by these companies was on the yield. These advertisers were on a spending spree since they were in a hurry to build their brands at scale. TV was the perfect medium for them since it helps build credibility," said an ad sales professional.

He further stated that the GEC and sports genres took a bigger hit than others since new-age advertisers were heavy buyers of reality shows and sports. "New-age category has virtually stopped spending on big-ticket properties since they are rationalising their advertising spends."

Another senior executive from a leading TV network said that the advertising spends from the new-age brands has dropped by over 50% in 2022 compared to the previous year. He also stated that the broadcasters need to start focusing on new advertising categories like emerging Indian companies which are based outside metro cities to fill in the void created by a drop in ad spends by tech start-ups.


"Broadcasters need to focus on widening their advertiser base to avoid over-dependence on certain categories like FMCG or for that matter new-age brands. Small and medium companies represent a huge opportunity for the TV industry. Right now, these companies are spending a lot on digital advertising which is also reflected in the ad revenue growth of Google and Meta," he noted.

Cheil India Chief Growth Officer Kumar Awanish said that the drop in start-up advertising will create a dent in the ad revenue of broadcasters. With new-age clients re-calibrating their advertising spends, he noted that the digital offerings by large broadcasters have also benefited. "Broadcasters have also created digital offerings and solutions to offer to those new-age advertisers. So, even if ad revenue is going down from one place it is coming to another bucket even if it is not from the same advertiser."

Awanish also stated that the new-age categories are focussing on efficient media buying through different channels. "If you look at the new-age category, they do TV advertising on two occasions. One, when they are close to raising funds in order to attract the attention of the VCs, and second when they want to expand their reach. Certainly, both these are not the case right now," he said.  

As of October 2022, the Top 5 new age advertisers/start-ups on TV are Amazon Online India, Think & Learn (Byju's), Fx Mart (Phonepe), Fashnear Technologies (Meesho App), and Policybazaar.Com. In 2021, Amazon Online India, Think & Learn (Byju's), Policybazaar.Com, Flipkart.Com, and Fx Mart (Phonepe) were the top advertisers.

The top advertising categories from this segment were Ecom-Online Shopping, Ecom-Wallets, Ecom-Media/Ent./Social Media, Ecom-Financial Services, and Ecom-Education. In 2021, Ecom-Online Shopping, Ecom-Education, Ecom-Financial Services, Ecom-Media/Ent./Social Media, and Ecom-Food/Grocery were the top categories.

 

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Bharat Express appoints Hemant Ghai as News Director, Stocks, General Market & Business

Prior to this he was associated with CNBC Awaaz for over 17 years.

By Ruhail Amin | Dec 1, 2022 6:59 PM   |   1 min read

Hemant Ghai

Bharat Express has appointed Hemant Ghai as News Director, Stocks, General Market & Business Segment.

Ghai has been the founder member of the team that launched the Hindi Business News Channel CNBC Awaaz. He was associated with the channel from June 2004 until Jan 2021.

Ghai joined the channel as a summer trainee in 2004 and went up the ladder from Production Assistant (2004), Assistant Producer (2004-2005), Research Analyst (2006-2007), Sr Research Analyst (2007-2010), Associate Editor (2011-2016) and Stocks Editor (2018 to Jan 2021)

He has spent more than one and a half decade in analysing various sectors, stocks and economy in Indian financial markets and has been hosting various business shows and interviewed the who’s who of corporate India for the last decade now.

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Quintillion Business Media launches BQ Prime Hindi

BQ Prime Hindi’s editorial focus will be on financial markets, business, personal finance and consumer issues, but will also include politics, health and wellness

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 1, 2022 3:59 PM   |   2 min read

bq

Quintillion Business Media has announced the launch of its latest offering—BQ Prime Hindi. 

“As wealth creation through entrepreneurship and personal financial growth through smart investing are among the key aspirations of India’s millennials, BQ Prime Hindi aims to deliver world-class business & financial journalism in the language of India’s heartland. The platform will engage with and power the dreams of the hundreds of millions of Indians who are most comfortable with Hindi,” the company said. 

BQ Prime Hindi’s editorial focus will be on financial markets, business, personal finance and consumer issues, but will also include politics, health and wellness—providing comprehensive, 360-degree coverage of every issue that business media audiences are interested in. With 5G a reality in India today and which will power the video revolution that has already transformed India to the next level of rich-media consumption, BQ Prime Hindi will not just be digital-first but deliver incisive storytelling through short videos, powerful visual stories, and other evolving, new-age, platform-forward formats to bring news, sharp analysis and actionable advice to life.

Speaking about the launch, Anil Uniyal, CEO, BQ Prime, said, “Even with the plethora of business content we have, the Hindi business news audience continues to remain underserved. BQ Prime Hindi aims to set the balance right. The ‘Bharat’ of today is young, ambitious and confident. BQ Prime Hindi mirrors that in its core values and promise to audiences. With a truly digital newsroom run by young, digital natives, and content focusing on wealth creation in cutting-edge formats, we hope to capture our audience’s vast aspirations and offer a service that empowers their imaginations.”      

Sanjay Pugalia, CEO, AMG and Director of BQ Prime added: “At BQ Prime, we are not just digital-first, but audience-first, and accountability to our readers and viewers is part of our core values. Our aim has always been to create world-class products that enable and empower our audiences and meet them where they are. BQ Prime Hindi’s editorial philosophy is rooted in the principles of wealth creation, growth, prosperity and abundance, anchored by the core tenets of sound journalism that include being progressive, inclusive, diverse and empathetic. My sincere hope is that our latest effort finds a place in our audience’s hearts, just as BQ Prime does.”

 

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Will always remember that red mike: Ravish Kumar

The subscriber count of Kumar's YouTube channel has gone up from 7 lakh to more than 15 lakh in a day since he put out a video talking about his resignation from NDTV

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 1, 2022 3:44 PM   |   3 min read

Ravish Kumar

A day after announcing his resignation from NDTV, veteran journalist Ravish Kumar has released a video on his YouTube channel, saying “he will always remember that red mike.”

In the heartfelt video uploaded on his YouTube channel called Ravish Kumar Official, the journalist said, “9 PM used to be on my mind as soon as I woke up in the morning. But now there will be no 9 PM, no prime-time.”

“I don't know what I will do at 9 PM now. I love television. I will always remember that red mike.”

Thanking people for giving him love and support, Kumar said, “At a time when the people in power tried to silence my voice, it was the people of the country that showed immense love towards me. I wouldn’t have been able to do anything without my viewers. I urge them all to continue supporting my work, which will now be on my  YouTube channel and Facebook page,” Kumar said in his video. Kumar shared that viewers have been his real editor, who have praised him for good work as well as expressed disappointement when his work was not good enough.

Kumar shared that it is the viewers' support which is allowing many journalists to express their views on Youtube and Twitter fearlessly. "You have been supporting many websites through subscription. In today's times, viewers are the biggest institutions of journalism. Journalism does not exist in instituions these days, it exists in the people. It is because of the support of the viewers that journalists are today asking questions fearlessly. This has been the biggest contribution of you viewers to journalism."  

"It is possible that someone might trample the voice of the people, trample the democracy, but you viewers give us strength. I am proud of you viewers." 

Commenting on the state of journalism in the country, the journalist said, "Media today has beome the voice of the powerful and not the people. The media in India has changed. The ecosystem of journalism in India is dying. The youngsters who are studying to become journalists will have to do the job of brokers.”

Looking back at his 26-year-long journey at NDTV, Kumar said he joined the channel in 1996 as a translator. In his initial days at the channel, he said,  his job was to go through the letters written by viewers. “I still do that. Even today, you send thousands of messages…I even get handwritten letters!”

Kumar also made a special mention of his women colleagues. "On this day, i would specially want to remember my women colleagues. The honesty and ethics with which they work is commendable, he said.

Ending his long journey with NDTV India, Kumar on Wednesday resigned as its senior executive editor.

In an internal mail, the channel stated that Ravish’s resignation came into effect immediately. “Few journalists have impacted people as much as Ravish did. This reflects in the immense feedback about him — in the ‘crowds he draws everywhere; in the prestigious awards and recognition he has received, within India and internationally,” read the mail. “Ravish has been an integral part of NDTV for decades, his contribution has been immense, and we know he will be successful as he embarks on a new beginning,” the mail read.

The subscriber count of Kumar's YouTube channel has gone up from 7 lakh to more than 15 lakh in a day after his resignation from NDTV.

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Upset, uncomfortable and definitely in pain’

Yash Chawla, Digital Account Strategist at Google and a former employee of NDTV, shares his feeling on Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy exiting NDTV holding company RRPR

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 1, 2022 3:18 PM   |   2 min read

Yash Chawla

“I’m upset, uncomfortable and definitely in pain. It’s not because of a certain organization’s takeover of NDTV but due to the exit of Prannoy Roy, said Yash Chawla, Google Digital Account Strategist at Google and a former employee of NDTV.

Putting up a post on his LinkedIn profile about the founder Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy exiting NDTV holding company RRPR after a takeover by the Adani Group, Chawla remembered his time at the company and his interactions with the Roys.

“It’s a weird feeling. I’m upset, uncomfortable and definitely in pain. It’s not because of a certain organization’s takeover of NDTV but due to the exit of Prannoy Roy.

I still remember my first interaction with this maverick story teller. ‘Don’t chase what the Govt is trying to tell you, that’s propaganda, always go for what the govt is trying to hide from you, THAT IS NEWS’,” he wrote.

“There was a learning in every single interaction with Doc whether it was over coffee, chai or Nimbu Pani. Thank you for the opportunity. My life changed when I joined this beautiful organization some 15 years ago and it was a privilege to learn and grow here for close to a decade. Made some amazing friends, some relations for life and found my partner in crime Namita Mittal for this lifetime and beyond!,” he added.

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Licences of three MSOs cancelled in a month

Total number of registered MSOs stand at 1748 as of November 30, 2022

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 1, 2022 3:03 PM   |   1 min read

TV

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) cancelled the licences of three multi-system operators (MSOs) in a month, October 31 and November 30, 2022. Amaravara Indigital Media Services, Star Digital Cable Network and Digital Homecast Network had their MSO licence cancelled.

Further, the ministry granted only one new MSO licence between October 31, 2022 and November 30, 2022. ST Broadband Cable Service is the only MSO to receive the new licence on November 11, 2022. 

MIB also granted three provisional registration to Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd, Godfather Communication Pvt. Ltd and M/s Intermedia Cable Communication Pvt. Ltd.  

Also, MIB closed the application of SITI Digital Home Cast Narwana Pvt. Ltd. as the applicant failed to submit requisite documents. 

The total number of registered MSOs has declined to 1748 as of November 30, 2022 from 1753 on October 31, 2022. 

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