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Government Still Working On Mobile TV Regulations; Digitization, FM Phase III

The Government of India might finally come out with Mobile TV guidelines, nearly an year after the TRAI made its last recommendations.  I&B  Secretary, Raghu Menon informed that the Ministry is engaged in laying down a suitable regulatory framework for private players to provide Mobile TV services. Issues related to spectrum identification within the recommended band, determination of service area licences and the number of providers, are under discussion, along with the recommendations made by the TRAI. MediaNama readers might remember that last year, in response to the I&B Ministry, on issues pertaining to Mobile TV licences, the TRAI had recommended that, among other things:

– Reducing the number of circles of operations of Mobile TV to 20, combining Mumbai and Maharashtra and UP(East) and UP(West).
– Not allowing a single entity to hold more than twenty five percent of the total number of permissions given in the country, in the first phase of rollout.
– To let UASL/CMTS licensees (i.e. Telecom operators) bid for Mobile TV licences.
– Although, the I&B Ministry wanted exclusive slots for Doordarshan and priority allocation of spectrum for Digital Terrestrial Television over other services like BWA, the TRAI suggested convergence of platforms and considering the requirement of both the telecom as well as broadcasting sectors.
– Lock-in period for licensees who win, and transfer of licences only allowed after completion of roll-out obligations, which was 12 months in cities with population of more than one million and the State capitals and union territories within the license area in Phase I.
– A low licence fee of of 4% of the Gross Revenue or 5% of the reserve One Time Entry Fee, whichever is higher.

There is no indication of when the licence auction will be announced. Also, take a look at Doordarshan’s Mobile TV plans, which were never operationalized:

– On DDs Mobile TV Plans, Handsets Vs USB Devices
– Doordarshan Seeks Revenue Sharing Model For Mobile TV; Rollout Plans, HDTV, Digitalization

On Content Regulation

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The Secretary affirmed that the ministry supported self regulation of content. Organisations such as the NBA and ASCI had put systems in place, which were working effectively. A process of self regulation with the IBF was being worked out through mutual discussions.

Switching To Digital

He mentioned that promoting digitalization was one of the main thrust areas of the Ministry to enable triple play and provision TV, Telephony and Internet through cable. At the recently held CII Content Summit, Menon informed that the Government has set 2013 as the deadline for digitalization of the public service broadcaster and 2017 for completion of digitalization. It is also recommending setting up of a committee to look into digitization. Although CAS did not get a good response, with the penetration of set top boxes being around 35% in CAS notified areas, the Ministry plans to categorize cities on the basis of population and set different sunset dates for each, based on a staggered approach. For Metro cities, the sunset date has been set as  31st March 2013 and for all Urban areas as 30th November 2014. The rest of the country will make the final switch by 31st March 2015.

Free To Air DTH- Increasing Channel Capacity

The Ministry has approved a plan for increasing the number of channels on Doordarshan’s free-to-air DTH platform to 97 channels from the existing 57, by December 2011. It plans to further increase the carrying capacity to 200 channels in the 12th Plan period.

FM Radio Phase III

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Menon informed that the Ministry will shortly seek the approval of the cabinet for the Phase III of FM Radio licences. In the Phase III, 806 new FM Channels in 283 cities would be positioned.

Related:

– Mobile TV India: TRAI & I&B Ministry Suggests 25% Limit On National Ownership Of Permissions
– PatentWatch: Mobile TV Receiving Device From Samsung Electronics
– Mobile TV Co Devas Multimedia To Sell 17 Pc Stake For $75 Million To Deutsche Telekom

Previous work at ContentSutra:
– June 2008: TRAI Recommends Infrastructure Sharing, Separate Licenses For Terrestrial And Satellite Mobile TV
– December 2007: TRAI Decides, Deliberates And Now Delays Recommendations On Mobile TV
– December 2007: TRAI To Recommend Auction Of Mobile TV Spectrum
– October 2007: When Mobile And TV Combine

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