TV viewing is all set to go mobile. The I&B ministry has decided to amend existing broadcast guidelines to include those for Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and the television on your mobile phone called mobile TV.
The new guidelines may be notified in four months. The services may be available on a large-scale basis by year-end.
“By amending guidelines, we can meet the demand of the new India. It would also be a big boost to TV viewing in India,” said a senior I&B official. The exercise is part of the regime to cover the whole of India under digital television by 2015.
The ministry recently gave an ‘in principle’ approval to the TRAI proposal on IPTV and mobile television. However, TRAI will fix the maximum customer satisfaction conditions for the two services, the official said.
Cable operators can provide the IPTV service under their existing licence issued under the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995.
The ministry will also amend downlinking guidelines to allow IPTV service providers to receive signals for all channels from broadcasters. IPTV content will be regulated as per the programme code and advertising code notified under the cable Act.
For IPTV, the telecom ministry has agreed to TRAI’s recommendation that existing service providers with licences to provide triple play services and ISPs with net worth over Rs 100 crore can provide IPTV.
The Department of Telecommunications can also permit other telecom licensees to provide IPTV services as licensors, the TRAI had said.
The telecom ministry has given IPTV licences to Bharati Airtel and Reliance but more players are expected once the comprehensive policy is notified. The IPTV Forum says it expects 20 million connections by 2010.
In case of mobile TV, the government has agreed to auction mobile television spectrum and increase FDI to 74 per cent. “Licence holders will be able to use terrestrial as well as satellite-based routes for the transmission of the content to cover entire country,” a ministry official said.
The government will also allow new entrants to provide mobile television along with existing mobile service providers. Currently, Prasar Bharati is providing mobile television only in the New Delhi area. But this is not popular as digital video broadcast-handset-enabled mobile phones are expensive, a Prasar Bharati official said. But, the business is expected to rise once private broadcasters like Sony, Star and Zee enter the fray, he said.