The government will consult all stakeholders before taking a final call on new regulations decided by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) under which multi system operators are allowed to charge a carriage fee from broadcasters, minister for information and broadcasting Ambika Soni said today.
The TRAI notification is part of a move to shift the country’s analog cable system to digital as part of an effort to improve quality and expand the reach besides ensuring that all subscribers can be accounted for, she said while addressing the 6th annual summit on entertainment and media organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
“Digitalisation is going to be the biggest reform in broadcast sector and enable operators to expand their revenue sources by providing more choice and variety to customers,” she said while addressing the summit titled ‘Digitalisation for Inclusive Growth.’
It is going to be a revolutionary step, said Mrs Soni adding that economic growth in the country should be inclusive or else it will not be sustainable. By December 2014, India should go digital.
The industry estimates channels are paying almost Rs 4,000 crore as carriage fee every year. They say that since MSOs charge carriage fees because of capacity constraints, digitisation should lead to the practice being ended.
On the issue of media regulation, the minister said every citizen has the freedom of speech as enshrined in the Constitution. “Self-regulation should not be condemned. Democracy is all about options and freedom of expression. As India matures, people will vote for development issues rather than along religion or caste lines.”
Striking a diametrically-opposite view, chairman of the Press Council of India Markandey Katju said self-regulation is no regulation. “Every freedom is subject to certain limitations. You can’t have freedom to harm society and damage people’s reputation.”
With increasing commercialisation, he said, the media is diverting people’s attention from real issues like widespread poverty, massive unemployment and malnourishment among children. “Rather, it is mostly propagating non-issues like superstitions, astrology and cricket. It should promote rational and scientific ideas. The country is undergoing a social churning and media’s role is very important.”
Meanwhile, president of the Film Federation of India Vinod Lamba said there is growing interest globally in the Indian content. The film industry, which is about 27 per cent of the entertainment industry, is likely to grow from Rs 16,000 crore in 2010 to Rs 25,000 crore by 2014.
ASSOCHAM president Rajkumar Dhoot, who is also member of Parliament, said the transition of migration from analog to digitalisation will lead to an opportunity to boost manufacturing capabilities and accelerate the growth of electronics industry.
Sujata Dev, chairperson of the ASSOCHAM national council on entertainment and media, said digitalisation will encourage services like e-education, tele-medicine, e-banking and other e-services. The government needs to create an enabling environment to attract investments in the sector, she said.
ASSOCHAM secretary general D.S. Rawat said the chamber is the first business organisation to have realized the importance of digitalisation and its impact on the media industry. It has also decided to promote the regional industry which has tremendous potential for global audience.
During the ASSOCHAM summit, six winners of 59th National Film Awards 2011 were felicitated – Girish Kasarvalli, Basant Kumar Patil, Oinam Gautam Singh, Anirudha Bhattacharjee, Balaji Vittal and Tonthoingambi Devi.