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Help 'TRAI is behaving like an agent for DTH operators'
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Star India CEO in a free-wheeling chat with Financial World

Star India CEO Uday Shankar says “paid news” is not just a print media phenomenon; it is just as rampant across the electronic media. In this email interview with Radhika Sachdev, Shankar, who was recently made president of the Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF), comes down heavily on the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and direct to home (DTH) players.

What are the top three items on the IBF’s agenda?
There are four: the focus on growth and profitability; having a self-regulatory mechanism for complaint redressal; a transparent mechanism for measuring broadcasting behaviour; and ensuring that consumers get quality and more choice.

Broadcasters say the TRAI’s new tariff plan that caps the wholesale price of channels for DTH, and Internet protocol television at 35 percent of the rates they charge cable operators’ favours DTH operators.
The TRAI behaves like an agent for DTH operators. It needs to recognise that unless the broadcasting business becomes viable, content will be the worst sufferer. Hence, creating a mechanism that benefits DTH platforms without sharing the benefits with the broadcaster is anti-consumer. Also, while the TRAI has given many concessions to DTH platforms, the latter is not obliged to share the benefits with consumers.

IBF has always favoured self-regulation, whereas the operative part of a February 1995 Supreme Court judgment has clarified that airwaves and frequencies are public property. This is why they need to be regulated by a public authority.
The 1995 Supreme Court “air-wave” judgment mandated that television content regulation should be carried out by an autonomous and credible authority. The IBF is also part of the joint task force set up by the I&B Ministry that has been tasked with examining TV content regulation. I won’t comment on the ongoing deliberations, because they are still under way. But the IBF’s position on content regulation is very clear – we favour a pure self-regulatory mechanism for non-news and current affairs television channels. We believe that government interference will curtail the right to freedom of speech and expression.

Full Story: Indian DTH Blog

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