Government seeks fresh recommendations from TRAI on cross media ownership

The I&B Ministry has asked TRAI to look into both horizontal and vertical aspects of cross media ownership

New Delhi: The issue of cross media ownership will be again examined by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) at the instance of the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry which has sought an examination of the issue, reports PTI.

Sources said that I&B Secretary Uday Kumar Varma has written to new TRAI chairman Rahul Khullar on 16th May in this regard.

"Major players are looking for expanding their business interests in various segments of print and broadcasting sectors. In this scenario, issue of media ownership and the need for cross media restrictions assumes great significance," Varma wrote in his letter to Khullar.

Sources said that the I&B Ministry has asked TRAI to look into both horizontal and vertical aspects of cross media ownership, and then give its recommendations. In his letter, Varma has written that at present companies have control and ownership across print, TV and radio leading to horizontal integration.

While at present there is no restriction for a company to have ownership across Radio, TV and Print mediums, but apprehension have been expressed in the past that control of media organisations in a few hands may prevent plurality of news and views, official sources said.

Varma, in his letter, is also learnt to have said that there were other implications related to cross media ownership including ensuring quality services at reasonable prices.

The I&B secretary has further asked TRAI to look into the issue of vertical cross ownership where companies owning TV channels were venturing into various distribution platforms like Cable TV distribution, Direct to Home (DTH) and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV).

The letter also points out that many companies, which own distribution platforms, were entering television businesses.

Sources said that the I&B Ministry felt that there was need to address these issues and measures needed to be put in place to ensure fair growth of the Broadcasting sector.

They said that TRAI had earlier in 2009 examined the issue of cross media ownership and based on its recommendations, the government had also sponsored a study through the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI).

The ministry has written to TRAI that with the convergence of various technologies in the recent years, the role of different players in Broadcasting needed to be looked at again so that measures allowing fair growth of broadcasting sector can be put in place.

Sources said that once TRAI examines all aspects on the issue and releases its recommendations, the government could then release guidelines on media ownership based on the telecom regulator's recommendations.

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Vodafone India FY net profit up 14% to Rs9,749 crore

Vodafone India's service revenue grew 19.5%, driven by an 11.8% increase in the customer base, strong growth in incoming and outgoing voice minutes and 51.3% growth in data revenue

London: British telecom giant Vodafone Group on Tuesday posted 14% growth in operating earnings from India's business to 1.1 billion pounds (about Rs9,749 crore) for 2011-12 helped by rising customer base and strong growth in voice-call minutes, reports PTI.

The company's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA)— which excludes one-time effects, for the financial year ended 31st March, rose to 1.12 billion pounds, from 985 million pounds in 2010-11, Vodafone said in a statement.

The Group's revenue from Indian operations surged to 4.26 billion pounds in 2011-12, from 3.85 billion pounds in the previous fiscal.

The telecom entity attributed the robust earnings from India's operations to service revenue as well as higher customer base. The growth also came from mobile operators starting to charge for SMS termination during the second quarter of the 2012 financial year.

"Service revenue grew by 19.5%, driven by an 11.8% increase in the customer base, strong growth in incoming and outgoing voice minutes and 51.3% growth in data revenue," Vodafone said.

Although the market remains highly competitive, the effective rate per minute remained broadly stable during the year, it added.

"In India, pricing showed clear signs of stabilisation after a prolonged price war," Vodafone said.

As of March 21, 2012 the customer base had increased to 150.5 million in the country, with data customers totalling 35.4 million.

Vodafone said its adjusted operating profit from India business was 60 million pounds in 12-months ended March 2012 as compared to 15 pounds in the previous year.

Overall, Vodafone's EBITDA dropped to 14.5 billion pounds in 2011-12 from 14.7 billion pounds a year earlier.

The group's revenue for the year improved by 1.2% to 46.4 billion pounds mainly on account of contribution from key countries such as India and Turkey.

"Our focus on the key growth areas of data, emerging markets and enterprise is positioning us well in a difficult macroeconomic environment. Our commercial performance and our ability to leverage scale continue to be strong, enabling us to gain or hold market share in most of our key markets, and reduce the rate of margin decline," Vodafone Group Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said.

"Our robust cash generation and the dividend received from Verizon Wireless have enabled us to translate this operational success into good returns for shareholders," he added.

Looking ahead, Vodafone expects fiscal 2013 adjusted operating profit in the range of 11.1-11.9 billion pounds.

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Government to provide direct subsidy on kerosene

The government is bearing a subsidy of Rs503 per LPG cylinder, a subsidy of Rs32 on per litre of kerosene, while the loss on diesel suffered by oil marketing companies was Rs13.64 per litre

New Delhi: The Indian government on Tuesday said that it planned to provide direct subsidy to beneficiaries of kerosene oil and a pilot project in this regard in Alwar district of Rajasthan was yielding good results, reports PTI.

"Direct subsidy on kerosene is planned in future...We have to move towards it. It will be done using UID cards... We are benefiting from the pilot project," Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas RPN Singh said in the Rajya Sabha.

He said the Government had provided subsidy of Rs1.38 lakh crore during 2011-12 and a subsidy burden of Rs1.9 lakh crore on petroleum products was due during the current year.

"The government is bearing a subsidy of Rs503 per LPG cylinder, a subsidy of Rs32 on per litre of kerosene, while the loss on diesel suffered by oil marketing companies was Rs13.64 per litre," he said during Question Hour.

He suggested that subsidy should be reduced and urged members to take the lead in doing away with their LPG quotas.

"A proposal should come from all MPs that they will not take subsidy on their LPG cylinder. This would show the way so that the message goes that the subsidy is meant for the poor," he said, adding that the rich were also taking subsidy which was meant only for the poor and lower middle class.

The Minister said a pilot project providing direct subsidy to poor and lower middle class beneficiaries was successfully under implementation in a Tehsil in Alwar district of Rajasthan and the government was benefiting. He said details of the project were yet to be received as it was still on.

To another question, he said there is no plan before the government to supply PDS kerosene to fishermen of Kerala, but said non-PDS kerosene could be provided to Kerala government for fishermen if a demand was made.

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