The recent Zee-Ditto TV foray into television distribution on an over-the-top (OTT) or internet platform is a sign of things to come. TV broadcasters are already alarmed at the threat the video-streaming on internet or mobile phone screens may soon pose to the existing broadcast industry.
Taking up the issue is the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) which is batting for relaxed regulatory norms to ensure a level-playing field with OTT in India.
"Our position is that the Indian government should recognise this convergence economy and lighten the regulatory burden on existing platforms because the internet companies are coming. While it is not a threat at the moment, in 5-10 years there will definitely be a problem of competitiveness with traditional media," said John Medeiros, director, regulatory affairs, CASBAA.
CASBAA represents about 135 Asia-focused broadcasting corporations.
"If you are a satellite DTH operator selling a bouquet of channels to consumers, you are paying something like 30% tax to the government. If the same content is coming through internet, it will be anything but 30% taxable."
India is not alone, except Korea, Singapore or Hong Kong, very few countries have recognised this aspect of convergence and woken up to this new threat in form of OTT.
"OTT is still an underdeveloped solution for India because of relatively low internet speeds in the mass media market. But as high speeds come, the big question for the Indian media market is--will OTT or online internet based services be treated on an even scale with other traditional media," asked Simon Twiston Davies, CEO, CASBAA.
“Till there is a regulatory mechanism, OTT will be given a very unfair advantage over traditional media like multi channel or digital TV which is highly regulated in terms of content, licensing or in terms of its friendliness to our industry. In contrast, in OTT as it stands today, there are no taxes, no licenses, no costs to content owners."
“We don’t advocate heavier regulation on the internet, we are for lighter regulation for existing platforms,” Davies added. (END)
The OTT business model is based on direct consumer payments or on ad revenues. While some of these services are geolocation blocked, some are not.
Some examples of OTT are:
TV channel sites
Free TV aggregator sites like Hulu, iPlayer, etc
Paid VOD content sites: Netflix, Amazon, etc
Paid Channel streaming sites: FetchTV (Australia), NextTV (Australia), Ditto TV ( from Zee), etc.