At a time when the Indian TV media is experiencing a boom seen in the exponential growth in the number of channels across the country, the new entry norms announced will benefit the bigger players while obliterating the smaller ones.
"In a single stroke, the government has thrown a spanner into the works of smaller channels by hiking the net worth required for new entrants. This is going to help the cause of big channels who are after TRPs while hampering the growth of channels who are keen to highlight local and regional issues," said Suresh Chavhanke, chairman, Sudarshan TV.
The Union Cabinet Friday had hiked the net worth criteria for uplinking of news and current affairs channels by nearly 670% from Rs 3 crore to Rs 20 crore for the first channel and R5 crore for each additional channel. The net worth criteria for uplinking of non-news and current affairs channels and downlinking of foreign channels had also been upped by more than 300% from Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 5 crore for the first channel and R2.5 crore for each additional channel.
According to Chavhanke, only 5-6 states in India has entities who can furnish a net worth of R20 crore to make a TV foray.
“There will hardly be any applicants for regional news channels. This move is fraught with serious consequences for the TV media sector," said Rakesh Sharma, CEO of the Prabhatam Group that owns the Sadhna News channel.
“There will be no level-playing field from now on. Indirectly, the new rules will further the cause of bigger and existing channels. It will be difficult for the new ones to enter," said N Bhaskara Rao, director, Centre for Media Studies.
"We had foreseen this decision as the big players were upset with the smaller players who had altered the rules of the game and were being increasingly seen as threats as far as revenues were concerned," said Rohit Rohan, vice-president, Katyayani TV.