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Flurry of policy changes in the media space - Views on News from Equitymaster
 
 
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  • Oct 14, 2009

    Flurry of policy changes in the media space

    The media industry is among the Indian sectors with the most promising future. Not only is there a thriving and dynamic domestic market, there is a vast market overseas of expatriates and increasingly, foreigners. But the Indian media industry continues to be unorganized and heavily regulated with laws that have now become outdated. Thankfully both the government and the industry seem to be addressing this issue of late.

    As per a leading business daily, the information and broadcasting ministry has said the 'headend in the sky' (HITS) policy would be unveiled soon. HITS refers to the delivery of digital TV signals from the satellite directly to cable operators, who then pass them on to the consumers through cables. The key issue for HITS is a teleport licence for uplinking signals to the satellite, which is currently required only by broadcasters. This policy will help develop the Indian TV industry further as it will enable cable households to access high-quality digital transmission.

    On their part, direct to home (DTH) players like Tata Sky, Airtel and Sun TV have expressed the need for a stronger apex body and for an independent broadcast regulator. At a time when the DTH industry is facing losses of more than Rs 30 bn this year, it bears a tax rate of almost 50%. The industry feels its apex body, the DTH Operators Association of India, is not as strong as the apex body of all GSM mobile companies, Cellular Operators Association of India. Although a strong and unified voice for the industry makes sense, it remains to be seen how far it can actually be implemented. After all, the major DTH players still don't agree on key issues like interoperability of set-top boxes, foreign investment caps, pricing of pay channels and broadcast carriage fees.

    The government is also waking up to the needs of the print media. It plans to soon amend the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 to address the requirements of the sector. In fact, the information ministers of various states will come together next month to discuss the requirements for the new Act titled Press and Registration of Publication Act, 2009. In our opinion, it is high time we moved beyond the 142 year piece of legislation.

     

     

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