A new order from the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry is set to rob the smiles off Indian sports broadcasting company executives.
As per a report in Mint, the government has imposed a fee of Rs 50,000 (on regional channels) and Rs 1 lakh (on national channels) per day for temporary uplinking of live events, which means the broadcaster beaming live sporting events will have to shell out that amount depending on the duration of the event.
According to temporary uplinking guidelines, all non-news and current affairs channels are required to have temporary uplinking permission “for any live coverage/footage collection and transmission on case-to-case basis.” Up until now, the channels didn’t have to pay any fee to the government.
“A simple permission was required till now to air live events. The imposition of this fee is a big overhead cost, which no channel accounted for while planning the future events,” an executive at a broadcasting company told Mint.
The order, which came into effect on 13 December, will impact sports channels the most.
Sony Pictures Network, which operates 11 sports channels, said that the move “could act as a deterrent to broadening viewership.”
“While the rationale for the new fee structure for temporary uplinking of live events is not clear, for example a sports channel uplinking a live sporting event ought not to be considered current affairs, there will be a financial cost, which could be significant if carried across several channels in different languages,” the company told Mint.
While industry executives are sceptical of the government’s move, they also point to grey areas in the order.
First, the order doesn’t define the terms ‘regional channels’ and ‘national channels.’ According to the television uplinking and downlinking guidelines, there are only two categories of channels - news and current affairs, and non-news and current affairs channels.