Please pick a market on the map. (You may select up to 5 markets.)
Independent National Regulator
Restrictions on Retransmission of Foreign Channels/Advertising
Authorization of Alternative “Convergence” Distribution Platforms
Retail Rate Regulation
Program Distribution: Is Tiering Allowed/Is A-la Carte Mandatory?
Wholesale Rate Regulation
Pay TV Ads: Allowed or Prohibited?
Pay TV Ad Minutage
Local Content Quotas
Regulations on Languages or Dubbing Subtitling? Restrictions on Dubbing?
FDI Limits for Pay-TV Distribution Platforms
FDI Limits on Wholesale Provision of Pay TV Programming
Cross-media Ownership Restrictions
The pay-TV industry in China is still in the early stages of development, being less than a decade old. In recent years it has been growing quickly, in step with China’s economy. The Chinese government has sought to boost market growth by contributing substantially to the digitization of cable networks and by launching its convergence policy with a 2015 target. However, the pay-TV industry’s growth is constrained by widespread online piracy, considerable foreign content and advertising restrictions, stringent censorship and foreign investment prohibitions. There is also considerable regulatory uncertainty surrounding the government’s convergence proposals.
The regulatory environment in Hong Kong is generally positive and pro-competition. The regulators’ light-touch, market-oriented approach has enabled Hong Kong consumers to enjoy the benefits of a comparatively high level of competition for the market’s size. However, Hong Kong’s copyright regime does little to discourage online piracy.
Regulation of the pay-TV industry in Australia is generally positive, with the exceptions being the restrictive anti-siphoning regime and legislative restrictions on pay-TV advertising revenue. These exceptions, combined with the presence of a very strong and well-protected free-to-air TV sector in a comparatively small market, have negatively affected growth and development of the Australian pay-TV industry.
Regulation of the Indian pay-TV industry has become the most restrictive in the region, if not the world. Almost every aspect of the industry is controlled, from channel availability, retail and wholesale rates, packaging, advertising, investment and even the commercial and technical arrangements between different levels of the supply chain. Each platform is subject to a different regulatory regime. For all the government’s micromanagement, considerable conflict prevails in the industry as the various players attempt to operate in such an arbitrary and inflexible environment. There does not appear to be any prospect of improvement in the near future, though the possibility of widespread digitization does hold out some promise.
The regulatory environment in Indonesia is relatively positive, for the time being: the regulators have resolved earlier conflicts relating to the scope of their respective authority; some progress has been made in changing the illegal behavior of provincial cable operators; the more restrictive localization regulations have not been given full effect in their implementation to date; and there are few restraints on pay-TV business models or offerings. Other than the restrictions on foreign participation in the Indonesian pay-TV industry, most of the industry’s regulatory challenges relate to uncertainty: from restrictive regulations remaining in the statute books, to the prospect of revised broadcasting and new convergence legislation, to the potential for corruption to interfere with legitimate commercial activity.
Japan’s regulatory environment is largely market-driven and competitive. A number of recent legislative proposals and enacted amendments foreshadow additional, largely positive refinements to the regime. However, these changes do not appear to affect the favoured position of incumbent local terrestrial broadcasters.
The pay-TV environment in Malaysia is generally positive, with new platform and content offerings driving competition. However, the market is constrained by stringent content control, the “Made in Malaysia” advertising rules and foreign investment restrictions**.
Information on Malaysia was drawn from experience since the previous CASBAA “Regulating for Growth” report, i.e. 2008-2010. In recent months, Malaysian officials have begun discussing a number of regulatory initiatives which if implemented could have a substantial negative effect on Malaysia’s regulatory environment, relative to other Asian markets.
In many respects, the regulatory environment in the Philippines is relatively positive, with no rate regulation, no licensing requirement for foreign channels, no tiering restrictions, no advertising constraints and only “light-touch” regulation of content. However, in other respects it is uncharacteristically restrictive (e.g. foreign investment rules and lack of copyright protection for broadcasters). The legislative, executive and judicial institutions charged with creating, administering and enforcing the applicable rules have fallen behind the rapid pace of change in the converging industries.
Singapore’s regulatory regime was designed to support Singapore as a regional media hub and encourage foreign direct investment. Paradoxically, the rules governing the local market have become increasingly interventionist. In addition to strict content controls and foreign investment rules, a cross-carriage scheme was introduced in 2010 which requires pay-TV operators to supply their “exclusive” content to certain other pay-TV operators. As the scheme is not yet fully in effect, it is still too early to assess its impact. However, many broadcasters and content providers believe that the scheme will adversely affect Singapore’s pay-TV industry.
There have been substantial changes and improvements in some aspects of policy in South Korea over the past three years, as resolute measures have been taken to create a more competitive pay-TV industry. However, this has not translated into changes in the way regulators work, and in many important ways the regulatory environment has not changed significantly since CASBAA’s last review. The new converged regulator continues its predecessor’s non-transparent regulatory practices, online piracy remains a significant challenge for the pay-TV industry, and cable television is still subject to more stringent requirements than other platforms. The protection of local programming against foreign competition persists through foreign channel restrictions, local content quotas and advertising and content rules.
The regulatory environment in Thailand has improved somewhat in recent years with the passage of the Broadcasting and Television Act in 2008 and the Frequency Allocation Act in late 2010. The latter Act created the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) as a converged regulator. The selection process for NBTC commissioners is ongoing and until the NBTC has commenced its functions, considerable regulatory uncertainty remains. Weak intellectual property protection, inconsistent licensing regimes and foreign investment restrictions also impede the development of the pay-TV industry in the country. Competition in the pay-TV industry has, however, been boosted by the relaxation of the prohibition on television advertising. The Broadcasting and Television Act now permits 5-6 minutes per hour of advertising on pay-TV platforms. This limit remains very low, and local channels have been outspoken against the limit. However, it has nevertheless paved the way for a wider variety of business models across the industry and contributed to the rapid growth of a competitive satellite television sector, much of which is free-to-air but some of which operates on a subscription basis.
Taiwan’s regulatory system for pay television remains one of the most complex and restrictive in the region . Multiple levels of government are involved in licensing and rate regulation and there has been no convergence in respect of regulatory regimes for the various platforms. At the same time, digital take-up remains comparatively sluggish and the island’s TV economy continues to be excessively dependent on volatile advertising revenues. As a result of the unfavorable regulatory environment there has been little development of the industry since our last report was published in 2008.
Vietnam’s economic expansion over recent years has seen impressive growth in the country’s pay television services, now available on cable, digital terrestrial, satellite, IPTV and mobile platforms. This growth is all the more remarkable given the constraints in which the industry is operating, including rampant piracy, restrictive pricing, stringent content rules and foreign investment limits. Whilst the relatively positive regulatory environment in recent years has encouraged investment in the industry, this is changing in the short term. In March 2011, the government approved a new set of regulations for the pay-TV industry, including substantially increased regulation of channel licensing, advertising, content review and localization of content. Enactment of these measures will substantially increase the cost of doing business for international channels, and at the same time negatively affect revenues. The result is likely to be a reduction in the range of content available to Vietnamese consumers.
The regulatory framework for the United States pay-TV industry is generally market-friendly. Although there is some regulation of specific exclusive arrangements and retail rates in a few localities, such regulation is of limited effect in practice. Convergence, reform of the rules governing retransmission consent and an update of the copyright regime are the main issues facing US regulators today.
There is currently no sector-specific regulation of pay-TV in New Zealand. New Zealand has a patchwork regulatory framework, with several statutory and industry bodies being responsible for different aspects of broadcasting and media regulation. With a population of only 4.4 million, the size of the New Zealand market is relatively small. Accordingly, there is one dominant pay-TV operator in New Zealand, competing against two free-to-air networks, both of which also operate popular on-demand online services, and one other online on-demand service.
Regulation of the pay-TV industry in the United Kingdom is relatively market-friendly, with limited regulatory intervention in such areas as content regulation and program distribution. Some uncertainty has been introduced into the regulatory regime by a number of legislative reviews instigated by the current Government and Ofcom rulings on rate regulation. It is too early to assess the impact of the reviews and their findings on the prospects for the British pay-TV industry.
The Sri Lankan pay television industry is relatively young, as evidenced by limited competition and an ad hoc approach to regulation. A notable feature of the regulatory environment is preferential treatment for local content and operators through the application of additional content approval, tax and investment rules to foreign content and owners. The regulatory environment could be improved by removing barriers to foreign participation and increasing the independence and transparency of the regulatory agencies and their rules.