With the Union Budget round the corner, the industry in its pre-budget recommendations is seeking support from the government. Infrastructure status for broadcasting industry is high on the agenda. With investment to the tune of Rs. 30,000 crore planned for set-top boxes and optical fiber network alone, affordable financing options are critical. A reduction in customs duty on STBs from 10 to 5 percent, and permission to carry forward losses in case of mergers and acquisitions on the tax front are also sought.
The tussle for switching off analog signals in all areas covered under DAS Phase-III continues. The states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Sikkim, and Telangana, apart from Tamil Nadu, where prolonged legal cases have been pending since Phase-I, have obtained a stay against implementation of DAS Phase-III from the respective High Courts for varying periods. Petitions in the Kerala and Karnataka High Courts are due for hearing next week.
Subsequently, the ministry of information and broadcasting, in consultation with the law ministry, plans to move the Supreme Court to transfer all the pending petitions in various High Courts to the apex court, seeking vacation of the stay orders.
Litigation will lead to delays in digitization, not just in Phase-III and Phase-IV areas but also in the pockets of Phase-I and Phase-II, where DAS has not yet been implemented.
Shortage of set top boxes, unresolved issues related to interconnection agreements in Phase-I and Phase-II, and cable operators requiring more time to seed boxes are some of the issues in contention.
As the year sets in, we see online content creators tie up with broadcasters and over-the-top players. With increasing popularity of smartphones and a much higher online viewership time – an increase of 80 percent since last year – it is digital content that shall drive the media companies.
We look forward to meeting our readers at the Broadcast & CableSat booth at BES Expo being held from February 4 to 6, 2016 in New Delhi.