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Monday, October 18, 2021

MIB TO AMEND CHANNEL UPLINKING, DOWNLINKING RULES

Proposed guidelines aim to facilitate ease of doing business in the broadcast sector. In the wake of talks on a National Broadcast Policy and changes to the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) plans to put in place an amendment in policy guidelines for uplinking and downlinking TV channels.

The draft policy guideline circular, initially issued in April 2020, is likely to be implemented after inter-ministerial consultations. While the guidelines propose a number of relaxations, there has been some concern regarding the capability of the amended policy to address the longstanding complaint of some channels riding on the back of DD Free Dish.

In order to check unauthorized downloading of signals, the guidelines make it explicit that while the current guidelines allow a company to apply either in C or KU band, uplinking henceforth can be done in the frequency band specified by the applicant. Uplinking in a band other than C band will have to be in encrypted mode, the guidelines say.

Historically, several complaints have been made to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting that around 10 channels have been making free use of DD Free Dish basically on account of technical slip-ups caused by MIB in permitting some platforms to carry on dual transmission on C band and KU bands. DD Free Dish is available on KU Band on GSAT-15.

Channels available on DD Free Dish are free, which translates into greater viewership and reach. Moreover, some channels circumvented the fees that applies to channels present on the platform. The new guidelines are expected to not only prevent loss of revenue for the pubcaster but also create an equal ground for all private TV channels.

Other important changes in the proposed policy include how an LLP (limited liability partnership) can now obtain statutory permissions for setting up teleports, uplinking/downlinking of TV channels, setting up news agencies, and purchases/hiring of DSNG/SNG equipment.

The new guidelines also propose that no processing fee shall be charged for live events and for change of language or mode of transmission. Under the guidelines, foreign channels can uplink from Indian teleports after paying an annual permission fees. Another feature is a simple interest at the rate of 2% per month would be charged on late payment of permission fee to ensure timely payment of government dues.

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