Companies

I&B Ministry may seek norms to regulate TV channel distributors

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on March 28, 2013

Content aggregators typically aggregate content of various broadcasting companies to form channel bouquets to sell to cable and DTH firms. — M. Vedhan   -  THE HINDU

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry may approach Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to look into the functioning of the rapidly evolving content aggregators and television channel distribution companies. TRAI may also be asked to come up with guidelines to bring in transparency and curb monopolies in this segment.

Content aggregators typically aggregate content of various broadcasting companies to form channel bouquets to sell to cable and DTH firms. Companies such as MediaPro, Star DEN and One Alliance (MSM Discovery) aggregate and distribute content across platforms. These companies are responsible for monetising content and negotiating subscription revenue share with cable and DTH firms.

Forming channel bouquets and aggregating content of various broadcasters help these companies strike better deals with cable and DTH firms and gives them negotiation powers for reduction in carriage fees. This also helps broadcasting companies to monetise their content better across various platforms including the fast growing mediums such as Internet and mobile phones.

Transparency

A senior Ministry official said a set of guidelines for the content aggregation and distribution would help bring in transparency in the digital addressable regime and also keep a check on monopolies.

In recent years, the television content distribution industry has seen further consolidation with companies such as Star DEN and Zee Turner forming a joint venture called MediaPro to distribute entertainment channels that also include the Star and Zee bouquets.

More recently, IndiaCast – the distributor of TV18 and Viacom18’s channels – formed a joint venture with Disney-UTV for distributing some 35 channels of all the three entertainment firms.

Analysts said such consolidation in distribution platforms has helped television channels negotiate for lower carriage fees.

Licenses

Officials said these distribution companies do not require any licenses unlike television channels or Multi System Operators and DTH firms to operate.

In the past, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had asked for TRAI’s recommendations to check on the prevalence of monopolies in the cable sector, cross holding and media ownership restrictions as well as formulate guidelines on ownership on audience measurement system.

>meenakshi.v@thehindu.co.in

Published on March 28, 2013

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