In a year marked by dynamic shifts and significant government interventions, the media and entertainment sector experienced a rollercoaster ride across TV, print, and radio in 2023.
As the industry navigated various challenges and encountered opportunities, each sector witnessed its own set of triumphs and tribulations. However, amidst the twists and turns, a prevailing sense of optimism emerged, signalling a collective belief in the potential for growth and innovation within each realm.
BestMediaInfo.com delves into some of the major developments in 2023 that had an impact on the media and entertainment sector.
Key policy-level changes which impacted the TV industry
NTO 3.0 came into force
As planned by telecom regulator TRAI, NTO 3.0 (New Tariff Order) was implemented on February 1, 2023.
As per NTO 3.0, broadcasters were allowed to increase the price of channels, which are part of the bouquet up to Rs 19 instead of Rs 12 as mandated in NTO 2.0.
TRAI floated a consultation paper on issues related to cable operators in the new tariff order
TRAI issued a consultation paper titled "Review of Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting and Cable Services" in order to address the issues related to cable operators. The regulator had addressed the broadcasters’ issues in the previous amendment in November 2022, which came into effect on February 1, 2023.
In a bold move, TRAI pushed for reducing the licence fee from 8% to 3% for DTH players
TRAI sent its recommendation to MIB for reducing the licence fee for DTH players from existing 8% of gross revenue to 3% of applicable gross revenue.
In order to safeguard the DTH sector, the telecom and broadcast regulator further recommended that the licence fee for DTH licensees should be brought down to zero in the next three years.
“DTH licensees should not be charged any licence fee after the end of the financial year 2026-2027,” the recommendation noted.
I&B Ministry introduced the draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023
The government said that the bill aims to bring in a new regulatory framework in keeping with the technological advancements in the sector.
With the inclusion of OTT platform operators in “Broadcasting Network Operator” in the draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, the broadcast industry called it an attempt to create a level playing field involving two different and unequal platforms and technologies.
In a recent statement, the I&B ministry said that the Broadcasting Bill is not an attempt to create a level playing field between OTT and TV.
I&B ministry approved the unrolling of viewership data for the news genre
With this, BARC India will share the historic unrolled data with the news broadcasters.
Spectrum allocation without auction
Industry bodies asserted that the government's proposal in the Telecommunications Bill 2023 to allocate spectrum to satellite companies without auction, keep internet-based calling and messaging apps out of telecom rules, and measures to protect infrastructure is progressive and will boost digital connectivity.
The bill introduced by Union Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw proposed the allocation of spectrum to satellite communications companies through administrative methods without the need for bidding in an auction.
Big developments in the news landscape
In a major development, a year after the Enforcement Directorate exonerated Republic TV from the charges of manipulating TRPs, its owner and editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami sought closure of the case, earlier this year.
In yet another big move, Zee Media Corporation announced its decision to re-register for the television audience measurement system with BARC India.
Meanwhile, with the increasing influence of artificial intelligence (AI) in India, news outlets eagerly embraced the new technology.
Other noteworthy developments in the M&E sector
SEBI barred Subhash Chandra and Punit Goenka from holding director roles for syphoning off ZEEL funds
In June, markets regulator SEBI barred Essel Group chairman Subhash Chandra and Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) MD and CEO Punit Goenka from holding the position of a director or key managerial personnel in any listed company for siphoning off funds of the media firm.
This became the sticking point for the proposed merger between Zee and Sony with the latter not agreeing to let Punit Goenka become the CEO of the merged entity as per the agreed terms of the merger.
While the year saw several challenges coming in the way of the Sony-Zee merger, Reliance struck a deal to merge its entertainment business with Disney’s India business.
Free streaming of sports events on OTT platforms
Viacom18, a part of the Reliance group, ‘changed the game’ by announcing the free streaming of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 on its JioCinema app. In response, Star Sports stepped up by providing free streaming of the Cricket ODI World Cup on Disney Hotstar.
Key highlights in the radio industry
In 2023, the radio industry experienced a dynamic year, marked by big government support, fostering growth across all facets of the sector.
TRAI recommended govt to allow news on private FM radio; big relief on annual licence fees
In yet another pro-industry move, the TRAI recommended a series of reforms for the FM radio sector including the removal of an avoidable clause on annual licence fees and enabling private FM radio players to create news and current affairs programmes. If these recommendations are implemented, the radio industry will be able to increase not just its revenue but also garner improved reach through the coverage of current affairs and news.
Govt revised ad rates for private FM radio stations after 8 years
MIB approved new rates for the Central Bureau of Communication (CBC) advertisements for private FM radio stations, after seven years, based on the recommendations of the Rate Structure Committee set up by it.
A year of revival for the print sector
In 2023, the print industry found a favourable chance to return to pre-Covid levels. This positive shift was fueled by better economic circumstances for buyers, reduced newsprint costs, and state elections this year.
Publishers witnessed a positive impact on the bottom line as newsprint prices further softened this year. This further allowed them to increase the circulation of copies.
Earlier this year, industry leaders pressed for the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) saying that ABC is not an alternative currency for print. The absence of the IRS since 2019 has caused significant challenges in determining the reach and effectiveness of newspapers in India.
A few months back, Shashidhar Sinha, CEO, Mediabrands India, said that IRS will be revived after a gap due to COVID-19.