A war started it. It started a war.
In just 16 years since Desert Storm got covered LIVE on CNN and launched India’s Cable Revolution, the country has gone from perhaps two million television homes to more than 120 million.
Paritosh Joshi, president, Star India Ltd
And from one Doordarshan, we now have several hundred channels vying for the attention of more than half-a-billion viewers.
Broadcast TV’s approximately $4 billion (Rs15,880 crore) value chain explains the government’s renewed focus on the medium. In most countries, governments regulate three critical aspects of the game—content, carriage and control. These will be the three areas of regulatory priority here, too.
The Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill seeks to cover two of the three areas above—content and control. Carriage is dealt with by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, or Trai, with executive orders covering its different aspects.
While issues of content and control are unlikely to experience seminal change, carriage is in a remarkably fluid and rapidly changing state.
What can the global experience tell us about the?evolving parameters of the broadcasting regulation?
The paramount issue of concern to governments everywhere is ownership and management control of the media. Who owns them? What share of market do they have—and are they currently/potentially in monopolistic or oligopolistic situations? Does ownership, and particularly majority control, reside overseas? Do owners of one medium also own significant assets in another?
The second big issue is content.
If you have been following the story about the Chinese People’s Congress and the imminent shutdown of thousands of Web servers in that country, you will know how sensitive governments can be on content issues. Remember that “wardrobe malfunction” is a gift of the content regulation game.
Scantily clad damsels dancing to Kaanta Laga became grist for many a moral police person’s mill.
Politics, morality and the normative principles of the day all play a role in bringing this under the ambit of regulation. We should hope that progressive lawmakers will drive the industry towards self-regulation.
The carriage aspect is more technical. Digitalization of networks and the timed sunset of analog systems is a common theme around the world. This moves us from the conventional model of broadcast being conte nt delivered within a strict fixed point chart to one where the consumption of content is location, time and device independent.
Given that this is the shape shifter in the entire pack, it will be the hardest to micro-regulate .