TV Industry: Here’s what made headlines in 2018
From TRAI’s new tariff order to Essel Group’s decision to divest stake in Zee, a lot happened in the industry this year
Published - 20-December-2018
The year 2018 has been quite an eventful one for the media & entertainment industry. The overall business this year was better compared to the last year and the industry saw some major announcements that may have far-reaching implications in the future. So as you get ready to start 2019, we take you through all big developments from the world of television this year.
TRAI Tariff Order
The year started off with Star India & Star Viay challenging TRAI’s new guidelines related to the tariff order (issued in 2016) in Chennai court. After months of hearing, the Madras High Court upheld the order with an exception and TRAI implemented the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Interconnection (Addressable Systems) Regulations 2017 on July 3, 2018. Star challenged the order in Supreme Court, but finally the apex court too upheld the tariff order on October 30.
However, following the Madras High Court’s verdict, TRAI had brought into effect the new tariff guidelines and prescribed timelines for the stakeholders. The deadline for the implementation of the order was August 31. Following the deadline, most major broadcasters published their Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) along with the Interconnection Agreement. ZEEL was the first broadcaster to declare its ROI, before the expiry of the deadline. Later, other big broadcasters such as Sony Pictures Networks India Private Limited, TV18 Broadcast Limited, Disney India, Turner International and Sun TV Network too declared their RIOs.
Another big development in the industry took place in July when Reliance Jio announced Giga TV set-top boxes. The set-top boxes will have the ability to use Internet to offer services such as live TV and interaction with more than one person at the same time using Jio TV Call.
Also, Reliance Jio will launch an ultra-high speed fixed line broadband service, Jio Giga Fibre, for homes and enterprises. The registration for the service started on August 15, 2018. The fixed-line broadband service will reach 50 million homes across 1100 cities. Beta trials for it have already begun at select locations in six cities — Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Ahmedabad, Jamnagar, Surat and Vadodara. On October 17, Reliance Industries Limited announced strategic investments in Den Network, Hathway Cable and Datacom Ltd, GTPL Hathway and Hathway Bhawani Cabletel, and Datacomm Ltd to accelerate the rollout of JioGigaFiber to 50 million homes across 1,100 cities.
Jio made primary investment of Rs 2,045 crore through a preferential issue under SEBI regulations and made secondary purchase of Rs 245 crore from the existing promoters for a 66 per cent stake in Den Networks. It also made primary investment of Rs 2,940 crore through a preferential issue under SEBI regulations for a 51.3 per cent stake in Hathway Cable and Datacom Limited.
E-auction of DD FreeDish slots
The year 2018 also brought back the news of e-auction of slots for DD FreeDish after a year-long wait. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is believed to have given a green signal. The auction was suspended in October, 2017. Though there is no further official communication from the ministry on this, according to media reports, the auction will take place next year.
After the suspension of the auction in October 2017, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had directed public broadcaster Prasar Bharati to carry channels whose contract had expired or was about to expire on a pro-rata basis until it comes up with a new business model. The channels that are available on a pro-rata basis pay the subscription fee on a monthly basis. The last e-auction took place in July 2017, in which DD-Freedish had earned Rs 85.10 crore and had awarded slots to 11 private broadcasters.
Dish TV India-Videocon D2h merger
One of Asia Pacific’s largest direct-to-home (DTH) company and part of Essel Group, Dish TV India was merged with Videocon D2h this year. The two companies had entered into definitive agreements in November 2016 for amalgamation. The proposed transaction had been notified to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for its approval and CCI had given its approval in a letter dated May 4, 2017.
ZEE Stake Sale
In November 2018, Subhash Chandra-led Essel Group surprised everyone by announcing its plan to divest up to 50 per cent of its stake in ZEEL. They have decided to undertake a strategic review of Essel's shareholding in ZEEL with a view to maximize value for the business. The stake sale is being done for disruptive technological advancement and to transform the company into a media tech firm.