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Friday, September 21, 2012

Around 68% viewers in four metros switch to digital TV


-TimesofIndia:
NEW DELHI: With the deadline for digitization less than two months away, 68% viewers have switched to digital television. The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry held a review of progress of the four metro cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai — that are expected to complete the digitization process by October 31.

A ministry statement said the most number of set-top boxes (STBs) had been installed in Mumbai, where 95% of TV households had gone digital. Kolkata came second with 67%, Delhi (53%) while Chennai reported 49% penetration.

Officials said installation of STBs in cable TV homes was one of the most crucial pre-conditions for the digital switchover and with just six weeks remaining, the ministry was constantly reviewing progress.

The ministry said as per 2011 census data, average TV penetration in the four metros was about 80%. According to the census data, of the 103.76 lakh households in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, 82.59 lakh had TV sets of which 25.59 lakh households had Direct To Home (DTH) connection. Out of these, 46.71 lakh households had installed an STB.

The achievement of digitization will go up to 77% if figures of 25.59 lakh households that already have DTH connection are added, the ministry said.

The I&B ministry has also launched a publicity campaign to spread awareness about the benefits of digitization which will allow greater choice of channels and better quality at competitive pricing to viewers.
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BBC makes significant changes to international news portfolio


-Mediamughals:
The BBC has announced a series of significant changes to its international news portfolio including bringing its commercially-funded TV and digital news operations together for the first time. Multimedia journalists will work on broadcast and digital output alongside each other in 'the world's newsroom', broadcasting in 27 different languages; state-of-the-art new studios for BBC World News go live this autumn; HD transmission has rolled out to Asia-Pacific; and the BBC's news website continues the roll out of 'responsive design' which optimizes the BBC site for smartphones and feature phones.

Jim Egan has been appointed as the Chief Operating Officer of the newly created BBC Global News Ltd, which will merge the BBC's commercially-funded bbc.com/news and BBC World News services, previously operated as separate businesses. BBC Global News Ltd will also oversee the weather and sport areas of bbc.com. Jim will run this business alongside Richard Porter, Controller of English for BBC Global News who takes editorial responsibility.

Jim Egan said the aim of the changes was to unlock new multimedia opportunities by bringing the BBC's expertise in digital, social media and TV together in one place and running the operation as a single entity focusing on audiences, not platforms.

Egan, who will report to the BBC's Director of Global News, Peter Horrocks, also made a number of other announcements strengthening the digital focus of the BBC's international news services:

• BBC World News will broadcast live from new state of the art studios in Broadcasting House from the autumn. The studios will include enhanced technology including virtual reality capability, significantly improving the look and feel of BBC World News

• HD transmission of BBC World News to Asia-Pacific launched 14th August, with the channel being produced fully in HD from the Autumn

• BBC's news website will continue roll out of 'responsive design' technology which can detect and adapt to different types of mobile devices. From this autumn, the new site will automatically deliver all users of smartphones and feature phones an optimized page to provide the maximum number of features for the individual device. What audiences will see will be tailored to the device they have in their hand, for example the way a device moves around the news sections and the number of images seen. The technology will roll out to tablets and desktop in future with the aim of having one site which is optimized for any device in future

Jim Egan said: "This isn't simply about running our TV channel and website together. We are entering an age where old definitions of channels and websites are breaking down - this is about the BBC's commitment to delivering the world’s best quality international journalism, in text and in video, in an integrated way to all the screens our audiences use for their news."

"We are confident these announcements will cement the BBC's place in that digital future and our role in informing and connecting the world."
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Prasar Bharati to sue TAM next week


-Business Standard:
NEW DELHI: Government-owned Prasar Bharati, the country’s largest broadcaster, had decided to sue the Television Audience Measurement (TAM) agency, citing an alleged inaccurate representation of data on Doordarshan’s coverage, said an official. The legal suit would be filed in India within a week, the official added.

The decision came in the wake of New Delhi Television (NDTV)’s legal action against TAM early this month. The private broadcaster had sued TAM in a New York court over the agency’s rating methods. TAM is a joint venture between Nielsen and Kantar Media Research. A spokesperson at TAM declined to comment on the issue.

The ministry of information and broadcasting recently wrote to TAM for a report on the measures taken to improve the ratings system, by increasing the coverage and third-party audit. It also asked Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to recommend guidelines to set the benchmark for other rating agencies.
In a recent statement, Prasar Bharati had said its board of directors had given in-principle approval to collate facts, seek legal opinion and hold consultations with the I&B ministry on the issue of alleged misrepresentation and under-reporting of data for Doordarshan by TAM.

Doordarshan has 37 channels, including DD Bharati and DD National, besides four allied channels such as Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV. With its 1,415 transmitters, Doordarshan covers 92 per cent of the country through its terrestrial network. It is estimated that these would constitute a viewership of about 25 million.

Prasar Bharati also has DD Direct Plus, with a little more than 10 mn subscribers, amounting to at least 35 mn viewers.

Going BBC way
Separately, Prasar Bharati has planned to replicate the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) model to boost its revenue stream, according to the official.

Following the government order that it would need to take care of its own operational expenses, which include administrative costs and software and programme related expenses, Prasar Bharati will need to increase its annual earnings. Spinning off the foreign channels and operating them as global broadcasters like BBC does could be a way forward, said the official.

However, any decision on this is yet to be finalised. “This will be discussed at the Prasar Bharati board meting next,” added the official.

BBC primarily depends on advertising, sponsorship or subscription revenue. It is mainly funded by an annual television licence fee, charged from households for receiving and recording of television broadcasts, but the fee structure is set by the UK government under a multi-year agreement with the broadcaster. Spain’s TVE and New Zealand’s NZTV are completely dependent on revenue from advertisements. In America, where the Public Broadcasting Service plays a marginal role, the organisation is funded by government grants and private donations.

The source said Prasar Bharati’s current annual earning were about Rs 1,300-1,500 crore and the operational cost estimated at Rs 1,500 crore. If the downtrend can be stopped, sustainability would not be an issue, said the official.

The government’s decision to bear wages and augmentation costs is a great booster for Prasar Bharati, the official added.

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Fortnightly magazine "Frontline" of the Hindu group re launched


-Exchange4media:
The Hindu Group of Publications relaunched its fortnightly magazine ‘Frontline’ at an event held in New Delhi on September 20, 2012. Hon’ble Vice President of India M Hamid Ansari was the Chief Guest.
The magazine has undergone a redesign and sports a new look. It will expand its scope to include photo essays on art and culture, heritage, wildlife, environment, land and people, and will also have new columns on literature and media. Additionally, there will be special features such as a science notebook. The magazine will be a healthy mix of its flagship long-form journalism and shorter articles.
Commenting on the relaunch, R Vijaya Shankar, Editor, Frontline said, “We have got very good readership for a long time. We got feedback from the readers and hence, have changed our content to include small articles. Visibility and accessibility was another problem. Keeping in mind that Frontline is known for its good pictures, we have introduced photo features, which will definitely grab the attention of readers.”
The magazine, that was launched 27 years ago, has not changed its slogan ‘Leading the debate’. The cover price of the new Frontline magazine will be Rs 40.
The first issue of the relaunched Frontline is a 150-page bumper issue and the first copy was received by eminent historian Professor Romila Thapar. The launch function was followed by a debate on the Constitution’s mandate – ‘Whither Sovereignty, Socialism, Secularism, and Democracy?’ with top political leaders participating in the debate. The discussion was moderated by N Ram, The Hindu Group’s Former Editor-in-Chief and Former Editor of Frontline. The relaunch function took place on the 134th Founders’ Day of The Hindu.
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Prasar Bharati gets 1,300 crore government relief


-ThetimesofIndia:
NEW DELHI: The Cabinet on Friday gave its nod to financial restructuring of state broadcaster Prasar Bharati, waiving off a debt of Rs 1,300 crore. In a major relief, salaries and capital infrastructure costs will be paid by the government to allow the broadcaster to foot its operational costs.The proposal of the I&B ministry was based on the recommendations of the group of ministers (GoM) on Prasar Bharati.

Following this approval, during the next five years from 2012-13 to 2016-17, government non-plan support will be made available to Prasar Bharati for meeting all expenses towards salary and salary-related expenses. All other operating expenses will be borne by Prasar Bharati through its internal earnings that are estimated to be Rs 1,600 crore a year.When asked if the broadcaster would be able to meet its expenses, Prasar Bharati CEO Jawahar Sircar said, "This is a long awaited decision. We now know what Prasar Bharati is expected to do and we have been gearing up for this challenge.''

Accumulated interest on loan-in-perpetuity, interest on capital loan and penal interest thereon payable by the broadcaster to the government will be waived off and will now be converted into grants-in-aid, a statement said. In another major relief, the accumulated arrears of space segment and spectrum charges accrued to the broadcaster up to March 31, 2011, of Rs 1,349.54 crore will be waived off.
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SC rejects Allahabad HC gag order on media


-ThetimesofIndia:
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday quashed a five-month-old Allahabad high court order gagging print and electronic media from reporting the controversy related to alleged movement of Army units towards Delhi on January 16 which reports claimed had "spooked" the government.Allowing an appeal filed by the Press Council of India (PCI), a bench of Justices H L Dattu and C K Prasad found merit in senior advocate P P Rao's argument that the high court was wrong in passing the gag order without issuing notice to affected media parties and giving a relief which was not even sought by the writ petitioners.

Rao said, "It is a permanent ban on reporting. This could not be done by the HC considering the recent constitution bench judgment of the Supreme Court, which ruled that only a temporary deferment of reporting can be ordered only when the reporting appeared to prejudice fair trial." The bench asked additional solicitor general Indira Jaising about the Union government's stand on the HC's ban order. Though the government had denied the inference drawn by media on the alleged January 16 troop movement from Agra towards Delhi, Jaising said, "The Union government does not support the gag order."

Immediately after the Centre clarified its stand, the bench dictated the order allowing the petition and setting aside the HC order of April 10. This is the first time PCI has moved the SC for protection of press freedom. The HC, while dismissing a PIL on April 10, had directed the Union home secretary, information & broadcasting secretary and UP home secretary "to ensure that there was no reporting/release of any news item by the print as well as electronic media relating to the subject matter, namely, the movement of troops as contained in the news item".

The PCI extracted the detailed order of its chairman Markandey Katju in its special leave petition and said, "Due to the said ban, the discharge of the legitimate functions of the fourth estate will be jeopardized in as much as their hands will be tied, leading to violation of their fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression." In its appeal filed through advocate Manju Sharma, PCI had said, "Indian Army is not a colonial army but the army of the Indian people who pay taxes which meet the entire defence budget, including salaries, cost of weapons, equipment, etc. Hence, people have a right to know about the activities of the Indian Army except where it compromises national security.
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Google refuses to remove anti-Islam YouTube clip in US but blocks it in India

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters): Google rejected a request by the White House on Friday to reconsider its decision to keep online a controversial YouTube movie clip that has ignited anti-American protests in the Middle East.The internet company said it was censoring the video in India and Indonesia after blocking it on Wednesday in Egypt and Libya, where US embassies have been stormed by protestors enraged over depiction of the Prophet Mohammad as a fraud and philanderer.

On Tuesday, the US Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in a fiery siege on the embassy in Benghazi. Google said was further restricting the clip to comply with local law rather than as a response to political pressure. "We've restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia, as well as in Libya and Egypt, given the very sensitive situations in these two countries," the company said. "This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007."

White House officials had asked Google earlier on Friday to reconsider whether the video had violated YouTube's terms of service. The guidelines can be viewed here. Google said on Wednesday that the video was within its guidelines.U.S. authorities said on Friday that they were investigating whether the film's producer, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year old Egyptian Coptic Christian living in Southern California, had violated terms of his prison release. Basseley was convicted in 2010 for bank fraud and released from prison on probation last June.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Supreme Court can restrain media coverage if asked

New Delhi:The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a person can move a high court or the top court to seek temporary injunction against the media if he fears that reporting of the legal proceedings in his case could prejudice his right to fair trial or interfere with the dispensation.
However, an order could be passed by the court, though sparingly and only after hearing the other side, a constitution bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia said in a 55-page judgment that deals with the precedents abroad and in India. Refusing to lay down guidelines for the media, the apex court, in fact, stressed on the importance of the fourth estate in a democracy. It said the power to issue guidelines or regulations for media is vested in Parliament but the court could only introduce a ‘neutralizing device’ such as temporary restrain on the media coverage. This measure is preventive and not punitive in nature, the bench that included justices DK Jain, Surinder Singh Nijjar, Ranjana Prakash Desai and Jagdish Singh Khehar held.
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Supreme Court can restrain media coverage if asked

 New Delhi:
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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Raj Thackeray warns shutting all Hindi Channels in Maharashtra


-Dailybhaskar:
Mumbai: Firebrand Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray once again spewed venom on Sunday when he reportedly warned to shut down all Hindi Channels in Maharashtra. MNS supremo's fresh warnings comes a day after much furore was caused after Thackeray's anti-Bihari remarks.Thackeray, on Friday threatened to brand Biharis in Maharashtra as “infiltrators”. His reactions came on reports of a letter from the Bihar chief secretary warning Mumbai police against picking up suspects from the state without informing the Bihar police.

Thackeray's remarks had triggered political storm with political parties asking the Centre to take strong action against him for his comments. On Saturday, an advocate filed the case against Thackeray in a court in Muzaffarpur district under a section related to sedition among others.Thackeray's warning to Hindi Channel came on Sunday even as Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil asserted that Raj's speech will be scrutinised.

It must be recalled that the MNS chief was in news recently for his blistering attack against veteran singer Asha Bhosle whe he said that she should have rejected the offer of working with Pakistani singers.Raj also criticised Colors TV channel for broadcasting the show. He had also warned other television channels to avoid including Pakistani artistes in their TV shows.
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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Government in no mood to extend cable digitization deadline


-ThetimesofIndia:
NEW DELHI: As the deadline for digitization of cable services draws near, the government on Thursday ruled out any extension. Cracking the whip for delays in adhering to deadlines, the I&B ministry has revoked registration of two multi-system operators (MSOs).In a statement issued by the ministry, Home Cable Network and Swami Cable Network had been asked to furnish information regarding preparations for implementation of digital addressable systems and their plans for infrastructure expansion.

"In spite of the repeated written requests by the ministry, the information has not been furnished by both the MSOs...The non submission of data by these MSOs is indicative of their lack of seriousness to pursue their business as per the terms and conditions of their registration," the statement said.Taking a serious view of the non-compliance, the ministry revoked the registration of two MSOs. The deadline for implementation of the first phase including four metros — Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai—for digitization is November 1.

Speaking at a CII roundtable I&B secretary U K Varma said, "Given the fact that government is mandated by Parliament to ensure digitization in the time it is notified, there is no possibility of further extension. My appeal and request to all of you is to conclude negotiations quickly, seed the set top boxes....and ensure that on 1st November it is fully functional." Varma rejected the suggestion that digitization process in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai was slow. "You can't say that it is very slow. If you judge from the space of seeding of Set Top Boxes (STBs) (it is about) 35 to 40%. I think most of the MSOs have assured us that they should be able to do the seeding in these metros," he said.The ministry has started the ambitious task of completing digital switchover of the existing analogue cable TV in the country in a phased and time-bound manner by December 31, 2014.
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Yahoo news fires its chief political correspondent

-Reuters:
Yahoo News fired its chief political correspondent on Wednesday for an off the cuff remark about Republicans partying "with black people drowning". David Chalian, the Yahoo! News Washington Bureau Chief, made the comment privately during a webcast of the Republican National convention on Monday in partnership with ABC News, but it was picked up by a live microphone. With Hurricane Isaac approaching New Orleans as the convention got underway, Chalian was heard saying to an unidentified guest, "Feel free to say, 'They're not concerned at all. They are happy to have a party with black people drowning'".

The remark was made over video of Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney and his wife Ann, and laughter was heard in the background.Yahoo! said in statement that Chalian's remark "was inappropriate and does not represent the views of Yahoo!"."He has been terminated effective immediately. We have already reached out to the Romney campaign, and we apologize to Mitt Romney, his staff, their supporters and anyone who was offended."

Chalian later apologized on his Facebook page for "making an inappropriate and thoughtless joke"."I was commenting on the challenge of staging a convention during a hurricane and about campaign optics," he said.Chalian said he had apologized to Romney and that he regretted "causing any distraction from the exceptional coverage of the Republican convention by Yahoo! News and ABC News".The Republican Party's national convention in Tampa, Florida, was delayed by strong winds and heavy rains as Isaac grew from a tropical storm to a hurricane on its path up the Gulf Coast.
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Yahoo news fires its chief political correspondent


Yahoo News fired its chief political correspondent on Wednesday for an off the cuff remark about Republicans partying "with black people drowning". David Chalian, the Yahoo! News Washington Bureau Chief, made the comment privately during a webcast of the Republican National convention on Monday in partnership with ABC News, but it was picked up by a live microphone. With Hurricane Isaac approaching New Orleans as the convention got underway, Chalian was heard saying to an unidentified guest, "Feel free to say, 'They're not concerned at all. They are happy to have a party with black people drowning'".

The remark was made over video of Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney and his wife Ann, and laughter was heard in the background.Yahoo! said in statement that Chalian's remark "was inappropriate and does not represent the views of Yahoo!"."He has been terminated effective immediately. We have already reached out to the Romney campaign, and we apologize to Mitt Romney, his staff, their supporters and anyone who was offended."

Chalian later apologized on his Facebook page for "making an inappropriate and thoughtless joke"."I was commenting on the challenge of staging a convention during a hurricane and about campaign optics," he said.Chalian said he had apologized to Romney and that he regretted "causing any distraction from the exceptional coverage of the Republican convention by Yahoo! News and ABC News".The Republican Party's national convention in Tampa, Florida, was delayed by strong winds and heavy rains as Isaac grew from a tropical storm to a hurricane on its path up the Gulf Coast.
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