Daily Archives: 19 March 2009

Rape and Punishment

19 Mar. Violation of human rights seems to be the order of the day. Pleasure at any cost driving principle. Whether others live in dignity or no does not seem to bother to the pleasure-loving.

Two publicised cases of rape in two parts of India – East and West. In Himachal Pradesh it is the teachers allegedly sexually abusing their helpless students, and in Maharashtra, a father raping his daughter for nine long years -on the advice of a tantrik- to get rich! lure of pleasure!

It is the grossest violation of human rights. Probably, the most inhuman of acts. Betrayal of faith and trust in another human being based on sacred social roles. Questioning the very existence of conscience!

The heinous crimes need to condemned in most unambigous terms! The culprits be punished in the severest way. We need a civil society – cultured society – an educated society.

Media Scenario & Government Incentives

[This post is mainly meant for the benefit of media students and those who like to know about media industry and overall media scenario in India. This was received from one of my friends via email. To him, “Thanks”.]

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has taken several policy initiatives and operational measures to ensure smooth flow of information to the masses as well as quality of content and reception of telecast signals on the electronic media during the year 2008.  The major initiatives include:

Policy on Internet Protocol TV

The policy on Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) was announced on 8th September this year by the Government.  This opened up the doors for another mode of distribution of signals by close to 400 permitted satellite TV channels through the Telecom Networks. This gives a new digital visual experience to the Indian viewer with added value to cater to the ever-persisting demand of the subscribers for new and interactive services.  This also provides increasing opportunities to create diverse business models both for the broadcasters as well as for the platform service providers. The policy on IPTV offers greater clarity on the issues involved, and both the telecom operators and the cable operators are able to provide IPTV services which is to be regulated as per their respective licensing conditions. Under the Policy, the content will be regulated as per the Programme and Advertisement Codes as prescribed under the Cable Act, which takes care of several apprehensions including those with respect to provisioning of obscene content. It defines the liability for violations of content codes and how they will be dealt with and takes care of the concerns relating to national security. The policy also enables Multi System Operators (MSOs) and Cable operators along with broadcasters to provide content to Telecom licensees providing IPTV services.  The policy also enables IPTV service providers to create its own content except for the news and current affairs.  With the Government committed to expanding the Broadband penetration, IPTV is slated to play a big role in distribution of content.

Digitalization of Cable Services

Government is also working on devising a suitable regulatory framework for Digitalization of Cable Services. This is the key factor in getting rid of problems such as under-declaration of subscribers and the practice of carriage fee being charged by cable operators, particularly in TRP cities.  As per TRAI estimates the cost of conversion of existing about 6000 analog cable head ends from one-way analogue cable network to one-way digital cable network works out to Rs. 15,000 Crores.  If the cable networks are to be upgraded to two-way 750-850 MHz broadband digital cable networks, then the cost of upgradation would work out to about Rs 64000 crore. One major policy initiative that could bring down the investment required from Rs. 15000 crore to about Rs. 1200 crore with some recurring cost is the introduction of Head-end-in-the-Sky (HITS).

The other policy intervention being considered is on the lines suggested by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its recent recommendations on restructuring of cable services. It has been proposed to prescribe a time period of 5 years within which the existing and new Multi System Operators (MSOs) and Local Cable Operators (LCOs) will have to digitalise with some incentivisation from the license fee as also support from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) for setting up two way cable networks for providing broadband services in rural areas.  Beyond the five-year period no new license for cable operation will be given for analog services.

Ministry is also working on extending the Conditional Access System (CAS) area firstly to the remaining parts of the three metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata and then to the 55 cities as suggested by the TRAI group. Measures are also being considered to bring down the cost of the Set Top Box by rationalization of tax and duty structure.

Head-end-in-the-Sky (HITS)

The key factor in conversion of small time cable operators to the digital mode of delivery is the investment required to be made in the setting up of the digital head end, CAS and Short Messaging Service (SMS).  Head end-in-the-sky mode of delivery of content can help bring down these costs for the small time cable operators, thus speeding up the transition. The TRAI recommendations on HITS are being considered in the Ministry for laying down a policy. The broad outlines of the HITS policy under consideration is already in the public domain, which aims at increasing the penetration of cable market further into rural areas where it has been absent because of unviability with reduced cost of Set Top Boxes. It is also likely to lead to further consolidation of the cable market and attract further investments by improving the return on investments.

Mobile TV

Because of the large potential of the Mobile TV sector and interest shown by the industry the Ministry of I&B had requested TRAI to make its recommendations after due consultations with stakeholders. TRAI has since sent its recommendations, which are under examination of the Government. Ministry is also considering permitting field trials for different broadcasting technologies for mobile TV transmission.

DTH Service

Direct-to-Home (DTH) Service refers to distribution of multi-channel programmes in Ku Band by using a satellite system, for providing TV signals direct to subscribers’ premises.  DTH provides subscribers the advantage of geographical mobility meaning thereby that once a customer purchases DTH hardware, he/she can continue to use the same unit anywhere in India. DD DIRECT+ is India’s first and only FTA Direct-To-Home (DTH) Service being provided by Prasar Bharati.  Besides, M/s Dish TV, Tata Sky, Sun Direct TV, Reliance Big TV, Bharti Telemedia and Bharat Business Channel are the other private commercial DTH service operators.

Satellite Radio Service

The recommendations of the TRAI on satellite radio were considered in the Ministry and a draft policy was prepared and referred to TRAI for further recommendations. TRAI’s recommendations on the Draft policy have since been received and Government is in the process of firming up its views on the same.

A draft Content Code formulated by the Committee with Secretary I&B as its head to review the existing Programme and Advertising Codes was posted on the website of the Ministry and after considering the response from broadcasting organizations, Civil Society groups, Consumer Forum etc., the Committee submitted its final report to the Government on 5.3.2008.

The News Broadcasters’ Association (NBA), a representative organization for the TV news channels, submitted its Code of Ethics and the guidelines for the Disputes Redressal Authority to the Ministry, which has started functioning from 2nd October, 2008 on self-regulation basis.  NBA was basically formed as the News Broadcasters were opposed to any kind of regulation or Content Code drawn by Government.

Detailed guidelines framed for the State Level and District Level Monitoring Committees to look into the violation of Cable TV Networks Rules in a uniform manner.  These Committees would inter alia comprise representatives of leading NGOs working for the women, academicians/psychologists/sociologists etc.

General Advisories/warnings issued to the private TV channels to remind them of the provisions of the Programme and Advertising Codes which they are required to follow as per the permission issued to them for operating TV channels in India specially keeping in mind the impact of obtrusive content on the impressionable minors.

State-of-art facility, Electric Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC) has been set up with effect from 9.6.2008 to continuously record the broadcast signals being received in India.  To begin with 100 TV channels are monitored and it is proposed to upgrade it to 300 TV channels during the current Financial Year.

Abstract of number of TV channels permitted so far:

Total number of Pvt. TV Channels                        :           417

Private channels (Uplinked)                                 :           357 (197 News Channel + 160 Non-News & Current Affairs Channels).

Number of Downlinked TV Channels                    :           60 (13 News Channel + 47 Non-News & Current Affairs Channels).

Doordarshan & Parliamentary Channels               :           33.

A Special Package for Jammu and Kashmir amounting to Rs.300 crores was approved for improvement of content of Kashir Channel.

Coverage of Important Events

CCEA approved the proposal of Prasar Bharati as Host Broadcaster and PIB as Press Organ for coverage of Commonwealth Youth Games Pune 2008 and Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010. Commonwealth Youth Games, Pune 2008, was widely covered by Prasar Bharati with its in-house resources, winning wide accolades.

FM Radio

During the year, the Cabinet approved the grant of permission to the FM broadcasting companies for creation of subsidiaries, and merger/demerger/amalgamations of companies by way of transfer of shares in partial modification of the policy on expansion of FM Radio Broadcasting services through Private Agencies (Phase-II). Total 241 private FM Channels are operational in 83 cities of the country. A total amount of Rs.1609 crores received by way of licence fees from private FM Channels, including Rs.40.5 crores during the current year.  The Government has also conveyed its views on FM Phase III policy to TRAI and sought for its recommendation.

Community Radio

The Policy on Community Radio was liberalized during the year to bring in the civil society and voluntary organizations working not for profit also under its ambit. Only educational institutions were earlier permitted to set a community radio. The policy has been liberalized by the government with a view to allow greater participation by the civil society on issues of development and social change.

Public Information Campaigns

Press Information Bureau has been organizing Public Information Campaigns all over India to create greater awareness about flagship Programmes of the Government. Development schemes of the Government are highlighted during the campaigns. The publicity efforts are supplemented through other media units of I&B.   Till date 234 PICs have been organized across the country.

Print Media Policy

During 2008, the Government also decided to allow publication of Indian editions of foreign magazines publishing news and comments on public news i.e., periodicals falling in the news and current affairs category, by Indian publishers, with or without foreign investment. Publishers of such editions may draw foreign investment up to 26 per cent. The ceiling of total Foreign Direct Investment {which includes foreign direct investments by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and portfolio investments by recognized Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs), together} is up to 26%, as per the provisions of the FDI Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting from time to time.

‘Magazine’ for the purpose of these guidelines is defined as ‘a periodical publication brought out on non-daily basis containing public news or comments on public news’.

Revision of DAVP Rates for Advertisements

The Ministry enhanced the existing rates for the DAVP advertisements by 24 per cent during the year, which is applicable for the advertisements released on or after September 01, 2008.  All categories of newspapers and periodicals empanelled with DAVP are covered under the revised rates.

This decision would benefit more than 4000 newspapers and periodicals.  The small and medium newspapers, among others, would however be benefiting most as the percentage of advertisements to be released to these categories of newspapers was increased earlier.

Revision of DAVP’s Advertisement Policy

The Government has earlier brought in changes in the Press Advertisement Policy to help the small and regional newspaper industry. The quantum of advertisements was increased from 10% to 15% in case of Small newspapers and from 30 to 35% in case of Medium newspapers, in money terms.

Minimum publication period requirement was drastically reduced from 36 months to 6 months for regional languages newspapers in Bodo, Dogri, Garhwali, Khasi, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Manipuri, Mizo, Nepali, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Urdu and Tribal Languages.  Similar concession was extended to all newspapers in all languages published from backward, remote hilly and border areas and in J&K, Andaman Nicobar & the 8 North Eastern states.

Newspapers which achieve a massive one lakh circulation within one year of its publication are now be considered for empanelment after one year of publication so that Government does not lose this huge readership for its messages.

Increased support to Urdu Newspapers has been ensured by earmarking 3.54 per cent of total allocation for print advertisement.