Industry leaders stress on definitive policies to tackle issues such as transparency, pricing, taxation, consumer choice and lack of a coherent regulatory framework.
The inaugural session at FICCI Frames 2015 was followed by a panel discussion on the topic ‘Vision 2020 – laying a transformative roadmap for Indian Broadcasting’. Industry leaders such as Jim Egan, CEO, BBC Global News; Sudhanshu Vats, CEO, Viacom18; Sanjay Gupta, COO, Star India; Rahul Johri, EVP & GM, South Asia & South East Asia, Discovery; Harit Nagpal, CEO, Tata Sky; VD Wadhwa, Executive Director & CEO, Siticable; JS Mathur, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting; and SK Gupta, Principal Advisor (broadcasting and cable service), TRAI were the panellists at the session which was moderated by media analyst, author and columnist Vanita Kohli Khandekar.
SK Gupta began with a keynote address by stating that the satisfaction to the customer had not been to the extent of the large growth of the broadcasting industry. “This has brought us to think that in spite of our best efforts, things are not reaching to the consumer, who is a king of the value chain. If you look at the regulatory framework, one can say that a lot was required to be done, but one has to consider that the regulatory framework has got different colours,” he noted.
Wadhwa was of the opinion that digitisation should be completed in order for the media and entertainment sector to grow. “That will bring in transparency. Secondly, we need to work together to see how we can monetise the business far better. It may be recalled that in phase I and II of digitisation, average revenue per user (ARPU) had witnessed a significant jump in places where people were consuming cable broadband,” he said.
To this, Nagpal responded, “We can either have monopolies or regulations, but one has regulation where there are monopolies. I believe that I am digging my own grave if I am not serving my customers, and as a regulator, we need to make sure that he is getting adequate infrastructure to do his job well.”
Johri wanted less regulation from the government organisations and more in terms of facilitation. “We will do our work and rather let the regulatory support to help us fix things. This is so that we can scale out business,” said Johri.
Sharing his views on the media and entertainment sector, Star’s Gupta informed that today the industry size was close to Rs 30,000 crore, and the big challenge going forward would be on how to make it a Rs 300,000 crore industry. Gupta opined that the one fundamental issue that plagued the industry was that they had regulated the industry from a wrong perspective. “You need to get the capital to invest high, while creating innovation for consumers. That’s how industries have grown. However, that is the challenge for the M&E industry,” he added.
Meanwhile, TRAI’s Gupta wondered that though there were 30 million DAS customers and 10 million addressable systems, how many of them had choice of individual channels? He said, “The bouquet system still triumphs today as its price is cheaper than selecting individual channels. There needs to be certain broad guidelines.”
Vats believed that if we became a little more open, we would allow the pie to increase. “If we focus on the price of the analogue cable, in some way, we are constraining the ‘X’ to increase and my request is that if we become open to it, we will allow the ‘Y’ to increase. The moment we allow the ‘Y’ to increase, I think we will define the problem collectively better between LMOs, MSOs, broadcasters, etc.,” he explained.