Supriya Sahu, joint secretary broadcasting, Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, set the stage for CASBAA India Forum held at Delhi on 5 March with statistics on the implementation of digitisation.
She said, "The notification of the first phase set the tone for the initiative. Now we plan to complete the fourth phase by 31 Dec 2014. According to the data that we have been able to collect from reliable sources, all MSOs in phase I and II are carrying more than 300 channels, and 90 per cent of them are carrying more than 500 channels. Yes, there are grievances, but the stage is all set for broadband."
Broadcasters, according to her, are noticing a jump in subscriber base. She further added, "According to data provided by News Broadcasters' Association (NBA) on 10 channels, there has been a 20 to 25 per cent reduction in carriage fees post digitsation. Even though they are saying that it has not gone down much after the second phase, we are awaiting the data from them to confirm it."
Sahu noted that digitisation has resulted in higher tax revenue for government as well. She added, "Going forward, the ministry will focus on implementing digitisation in 10 States, which would cover over 77 per cent of phase 3 and 4."
FDI in focus
In August 2013, TRAI gave its recommendations in hiking FDI limits in various segments of media. These suggestions are still pending Government approval. A panel comprising Narayan Rao, executive vice-chairperson, NDTV and president, NBA; Sadanand Shetty, VP and senior fund manager, Taurus Asset Management; and Ashok Mansukhani, president, MSO Alliance discussed the nuances.
While Mansukhani noted that uncertain regulatory climate was challenging FDI, Rao said, "At this moment, broadcasters are far too much dependent on advertising. The ratio between advertising and subscription revenue stands at 90:10. While I do not understand the need of carriage fee in a digital environment, FDI would be welcome if such issues including regulatory framework are ironed out."