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News Analysis: 30-01-2019
General Studies-II : Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
New TRAI order provides for greater choice and transparency on pricing of channels
The tariff order on broadcasting and cable services issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is set to become effective on February 1, giving the consumer the option to pay only for those channels she wants to watch.
Under the scheme, there is also a maximum price for pay channels declared by the broadcaster, which is reported to TRAI, bringing about greater transparency. Each channel will be available on an a la carte basis.
The effect is that the consumer’s subscription cost on a base package of 100 standard definition television channels is fixed in the form of a network capacity fee.
And even within this group, there is freedom to choose channels, with a provision for appropriate revision for any pay channels.
This is a welcome departure from a regime where combinations of free and pay channels were decided by distributors and broadcasters as bouquets that did not reflect actual demand for individual channels.
Efforts to introduce a la carte choice were thwarted by pricing individual channels almost as high as the bouquets they were part of. Bouquets are enabled in the new scheme, but with the stipulation that at least 85% of the total price of all channels that form part of a bouquet be charged, removing the incentive to distort prices.
Distributors including cable and DTH platforms, and advertisers, should welcome the order, which strengthens price discovery and eliminates inflated claims of the subscriber base.
Television in the conventional sense has changed in the era of the Internet, with the emergence of new distribution possibilities.
Many broadcasters, including popular news channels, provide their content free on platforms such as YouTube and through mobile phone applications, reaching global audiences.
Global Over the Top (OTT) providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have opened a new front and are competing for viewers who get advertisement-free programming streamed on subscription.
TRAI has made clear that since broadcast licensing does not apply to such new technology platforms, these do not come under price regulation.
In the fast-changing competitive landscape of home entertainment, conventional TV must now compete on the strength of transparent pricing and better programming for subscription revenue growth and viewer time that attracts advertising.
Industry data show that there are about 197 million homes in India with a TV set, and 100 million more homes without one represent scope for growth.
This can be achieved through regulatory schemes that empower broadcasters and subscribers alike.
TRAI has done well to put up a calculator on its website to help consumers calculate bills under the new regime before signing up for a package with the operator.
The broadcast industry must welcome a new era that promises to remove distribution bottlenecks and empower consumers with choice.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-II : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Decision put off on Institutes of Eminence
The University Grants Commission has deferred a decision on which institutions should be granted the prestigious Institutes of Eminence tag as an expert committee has recommended more names than the government scheme allowed for.
The expert committee recommended 30 names, 15 in each category. But the government scheme said we had to select ten in each category [of public and private institutions],
The scheme is aimed at developing world-class institutions which would put India on the global education map.
Institutions were offered greater autonomy and freedom to decide fees, course durations and structures. The 10 selected public institutions would also receive a grant of ₹1000 crore, while the 10 private institutions would not receive any financial assistance.
The empowered expert committee headed by former Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami had initially recommended 11 institutions for the tag in July 2018.
Of those, the Centre had actually bestowed the tag on six institutions, three public — IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay and IISc Bangalore – and three private — BITS Pilani, Manipal University, and the yet-to-open Jio University. In December, the committee recommended 19 more names, taking the total list to 30.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-III : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management
139 polluted cities not on clean air plan: report
There are 139 Indian cities that breach air pollution standards but are not included in the Centre's National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), says a report by Greenpeace and made public on Tuesday.
The NCAP was launched by the government earlier this month and is a ₹300 crore initiative to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024.
The 102 cities, identified as hotspots of pollution, were asked to submit a plan for how they would address the problem.
Broadly, the plans include increasing the number of monitoring stations, providing technology support, conducting source apportionment studies, and strengthening enforcement.
Airpocalypse III, as the Greenpeace report is titled, analyses air pollution data of 313 cities and towns for the year 2017
Of these 313 cities, 241 (77%) had PM10 levels beyond the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). These specify upper limits to a range of airborne chemicals and compounds.
While 102 of these cities were included in the NCAP, the remaining 139 cities were left out.
That’s because, say the authors of the report, the government’s list of 102 cities relied on average pollution data until 2015, whereas Airpocalypse III used data updated up to 2017.
Even if the NCAP were to able to reduce pollution by 30% by 2024, 153 cities would still be left with pollution levels exceeding the NAAQS, the report added.
Of the 139 cities that have not been included in the non-attainment list under the NCAP, there are several cities that have a population of more than 1 million, and PM levels (recorded in 2017) above NAAQS.
These include: Ranchi, Dhanbad (Jharkhand); Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh); Chennai, Madurai (Tamil Nadu); Meerut (Uttar Pradesh); Pimpri-Chindwar, Thane, (Maharashtra); Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara (Gujarat); and Howrah (West Bengal).
Source: The Hindu
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