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Indian Govt mandates cable services to switch to digital mode in july 2012, sanctions 839 new FM radio stations in 250 towns

Cable services will switch to digital mode in July this year and the whole country will go digital by December 31, 2014  I&B Secretary Uday Kumar Varma told some 2000 Indian and 800 international delegates at the inauguration of FICCI Frames 2012 in Mumbai today.

The Secretary  also announced that the Union Cabinet has approved the proposal to allow 839 new FM radio stations in over 250 towns.  He said the process of e-auction has already been initiated in  this regard.
  Mr. Varma also spoke about the need to strengthen public broadcasting to promote plurality and offer varied content. He said, the government has laid special focus on community radio and informed that as many as 1000 community / campus radio stations will be set up across the country, to give voice to local aspirations.

  Mr Varma  recalled that Parliament had passed a law for mandatory digitization of cable services in December 2011 and  termed the digitization challenge undertaken by India as unique in several respects while pointing out that over 80 million analog TV homes going digital, it will make cable the largest provider of digital content.

“Digitisation will address a plethora of issues facing the television industry ,such as addressability, carriage fees, audience measurement, consumer choice and so on” he said, adding that the decision of the Government will have a long-term beneficial impact for all players in the chain, increasing transparency in the sharing of distribution revenues and helping improve both the quality and variety of content.
According to Varma, all the stake holders – broadcasters, MSOs and cable operators have supported the Government’s move.


 In his vision statement, he  also outlined the other initiatives taken by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. These include setting up of single window facility for shooting clearances in India, promotion of India as a cinema shooting destination in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, restructuring of information dissemination system and plans for celebration of the Centenary of Indian Cinema between May 3, 2012 to May 3, 2013.
 
 Registering a robust 12 percent growth during 2010-11, the Indian media industry is estimated be worth around $30 billion (Rs.145,000 crore).
Senator Chris Dodd in his key-note address termed India as one of the largest entertainment markets. He said the Hollywood Studios have understood the business potential and are increasingly collaborating with Indian production houses. He however, cautioned about the perils of piracy and said strong laws are needed to curb content theft.


STAR India CEO Uday Shankar  said digitization will create niche channels and promote decentralization of content creation.

 Despite a nearly US$7 billion multichannel TV market, only 60% of India’s vast population owns a television. The government mandate to digitise India's fragmented cable TV networks should provide a boost for the economy and increase consumer choice, competition, broadcast revenues, cable and direct to home (DTH) subscriptions – and investment says   Simon Twiston Davies, CEO, CASBAA in a statement  to subscribers of an e-letter.


FICCI Frames  provides an annual forum for discussion, exchange of information and networking opportunity for media industry professionals and stakeholders. Japan is the partner country this year  with a high-powered delegation comprising key stakeholders from the Japanese media and entertainment industry with a strong representation from the animation segment.


  
    

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About Ronita Torcato

Torcato Agnela Ronita
An incomplete round-up of movie news, features & views from an independent journo & (dare I say it:-) film critic in Mumbai

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