Competition & Economic Regulation

CASBAA Tells Law Commission: India Would be Well Advised to Avoid Heavy-Handed Regulation

Wednesday, 20 August 2014 12:11

Several months ago, the Law Commission of India launched a consultation on media law which is concluding now. Among other things, thee LCI is considering issues of media ownership and competition – which have by no means been settled by recent TRAI recommendations on the subject. CASBAA has urged a light touch, with close reliance on general competition law. CASBAA also addressed the question of how best to regulate media content, urging continued reliance on India's self-regulatory bodies, warning that "Overly rigid content regulation, as seen in some other countries, will induce a massive shift in consumer demand for unregulated content viewed via the internet."

Read full article here

   

No need for commercial TV rates to be regulated, CASBAA says

Friday, 04 July 2014 12:05

CASBAA stressed to Indian regulators that the theory of rate regulation was to protect individual consumers who have limited market power, not commercial customers with many different choices of TV suppliers. TRAI, CASBAA urged, should "allow the conditions of program supply to commercial premises to be negotiated between content aggregators, distribution platforms, and owners of commercial premises."

Read full submission here

   

Summary of Cross-Media Ownership Rules

Thursday, 12 December 2013 10:48

CASBAA is joining with media and telecom companies in Hong Kong to recommend a series of changes in the HK SAR's Broadcasting Ordinance and Telecom Ordinance. In keeping with the global trend toward lightening restrictions on licensed TV (as competition with unregulated internet-based OTT and pirate offerings becomes ever more intense), the Hong Kong group is recommending that the government relax some of the current outdated restrictions on advertising, content regulation, and cross-media ownership (among other things).

The full recommendations will be released soon; in the meantime here for information is a background survey on cross-media ownership prepared by CASBAA. CASBAA's view of the overall issues with unbalanced regulation of licensed television and unlicensed OTT is contained in our publication "A Tilted Playing Field," which can be accessed here.

   

CASBAA Fact Sheet on Essential Content Lists

Thursday, 22 August 2013 12:23

This paper provides background information on the practice adopted by some governments of requiring "essential content" to be shared among TV operators. It includes a table showing the content sharing lists of governments in Europe and Asia, and takes account of latest developments in Malaysia and Singapore.

Full Article here

   

CASBAA Applauds Liberalization of Investment Controls in India

Monday, 12 August 2013 16:10

CASBAA responded positively to proposals by India's TRAI to liberalize foreign investment controls on pay-TV network operators. In keeping with other liberalizations in India recently, TRAI proposed allowing up to 100% foreign investment on pay-TV companies, to parallel changes in process for telecom companies. In a submission, CASBAA "welcomed and supported" the TRAI proposal that investment in the "carriage" sectors be increased to 100% across the board. Download the submission paper here

   

Movement on Cable Package Pricing in Taiwan

Monday, 08 July 2013 12:39

Taiwan, which has had a large, static, legally-mandated analogue cable TV package for years, is in for some change, with consumers paying less for basic TV, but having more choice for premium content. The National Communications Commission announced on July 3 that in early 2017 it would oblige cable operators to offer tiers of programming. A basic tier, to include 11 named "must-carry" FTA channels plus others to be selected by cable operators, would cost only US$6.60 per month. Three add-on expanded basic tiers (which can be selected by consumers) are to cost only $4.30 each. At the top end, however, operators are expected to have more pricing flexibility for premium and HD channels. An obvious prerequisite for this type of pricing is full digitization. One hopeful sign is that Commission spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng implied it was not the Commission's intention to continue past regulatory excesses. According to Yu, the commission would not limit the number of channels available in each group, nor would it interfere with the arrangement of the TV channels.

See an English-language press report here.

See a translation of the NCC's media release here.

   

Taiwan Media Monopoly Debate Rages

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 11:40

Two recent articles from the English-language press illuminate the continuing, highly political, debate in Taiwan over "media monopoly" issues. They will be of interest to members following issues there.

1. An Op-Ed column in the Taipei Times provides good background on the origin and development of the complicated issues at stake: More

2. Meanwhile, the Want Want China Times (part of the conglomerate at the center of the "monopoly" storm) published that group's point of view, which is anything but neutral: More

(Declaration of Interest: None of the companies in the Want Want China Times Group are CASBAA members, though they have been invited. Other players in the Taiwan pay-TV industry are members.)

   

No need for duplicate regulation of media ownership, CASBAA tells TRAI

Thursday, 11 April 2013 17:47

TRAI Consultation -- Indian Media Ownership

CASBAA made a detailed submission to India's TRAI on proposed restraints on media ownership. CASBAA, backed by an authoritative report on international precedents from London consulting firm FTI Consultants, told TRAI that such rules were high-risk, and poor decisions now would warp the structure and development of India's media industry for decades to come. Therefore, the potential risks and benefits of policy choices had to be carefully assessed – which had yet to be done in India. The consultants at FTI warned that in the absence of adequate analysis of potential policy impacts "there is a significant risk that India could embark on a regulation that is not fit for purpose and based on outdated market research. Far from correcting a market failure that has not been demonstrated, the result could be significant damage to markets."

Other main points of the CASBAA submission:
The TRAI consultation paper was a solution in search of a problem – it jumped immediately into asking about details of solutions, without setting forth the nature of the issue which needed resolution. It never considered a range of possible approaches including "no change." As such, CASBAA commented "we do not find the approach in this paper to represent an acceptable base for proceeding with a major regulatory intervention."

The Consultation Paper was completely backward-looking; it took no account of the massive growth in online consumption of news and other media even in the four years since TRAI had last taken up this issue. Convergence is the future of the media industry, and regulations considered now must address convergence.

The TRAI proposals made no mention of the comprehensive competition policy rules administered by the Competition Council of India. "Indian law gives the CCI ample authority over this sector (and all others) and no case has been made that the media sector requires additional or different regulation," said CASBAA.

The result of international considerations of media plurality issues, including an exhaustive consultation process by Ofcom in the UK, has tended to the conclusion that media plurality assessments must be based on a full view incorporating many measures. "Mechanistic" bars to ownership would risk stifling investment at a time when the media sector is vibrant and changing.

Discussion in the TRAI paper of a number of the international precedents was skewed. For example, the US FCC, having relied on "diversity indexes" to try to calculate plurality, moved away from these in 2006 stating it had concluded such an index "is an inaccurate tool for measuring diversity". FTI Consultants observed that "the international media regulatory landscape as it affects ownership and plurality is far more diverse and complex than the selected examples presented by TRAI."

India already has policies in place (e.g. "must provide") to prevent vertical restraints that affect competition and India needs the efficiencies and economic benefits to consumers than can flow from vertical investments. TRAI has not presented a case justifying additional general restraints against vertical integration.

See the CASBAA complete submission here

See the Report by FTI Consulting here

   

Singapore Revises Sports Sharing List

Friday, 11 January 2013 18:06

Singapore’s MDA has announced the conclusion of its consultation process on revision of that country’s designated content list.  (This is a list of specific sporting events that must be offered for broadcast on FTA television.  Singapore adopts the Australian practice of calling this an “antisiphoning” list, though the relevancy of that term outside Australia is questionable.)

The revisions continue a practice in effect since 2003.  In the latest revisions, the government made use of existing legal authorities to divide the list into two parts:  Category A, for which FTA television must be offered rights for live or near-live broadcast of the full event, and Category B, for which live broadcast may be only on pay-TV, but FTA TV must be offered rights for delayed broadcast (defined as after 48 hours after the event, unless the parties agree otherwise.)

A few items were removed from the 2003 list, including the local S-League soccer matches and the Winter Olympics (downgraded from Category A to Category B).   A few new items were added, including the final rounds of the FIFA World Cup and the F1 race in Singapore.

The outcome of the consultation is broadly in line with recommendations made at an earlier stage by an industry expert panel (which included both CASBAA and the two leading Singapore pay-TV platforms).   The pay-TV industry had sought an even shorter list.  That said, the conclusion of the process still leaves Singapore in the position of having a carefully defined and well-thought-out list that is limited in scope and balances national interest with commercial considerations in an equitable manner – far from the intrusive and one-sided policies adopted in some other markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

MDA issued a “Closing Note” to the consultation, (download here ) as well as a public notice, downloadable  here.

   

CASBAA Urges Thai Regulators to Adopt Market-Friendly Approach

Monday, 03 September 2012 15:57

CASBAA submitted views to the Thai National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on proposed rules for licensing companies in the television business. CASBAA’s submission stressed the need for an industry-friendly licensing regime for international TV channels, and also urged tightening of provisions designed to ensure respect for intellectual property rights. CASBAA also suggested the NBTC seek over time a relaxation of 2008 legislation containing excessively strict limits on pay-TV advertising, and on foreign investment in Thai pay-TV companies.

Download here:

NBTC_Submission_and_CASBAA_Briefing_Paper (English Version)

NBTC_Submission_and_CASBAA_Briefing_Paper (Thai Version)

   

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