Television in India

Television in India

Television in India is a huge industry and has thousands of programmes in all the states of India. The small screen has produced numerous celebrities of their own kind some even attaining national fame. TV soaps are extremely popular with housewives as well as working women. Several small screen actors have made it big in Bollywood. Approximately half of all Indian Households own a television [ [ In India, the Golden Age of Television Is Now] New York Times] , remarkable for a country where 77% of the population lives on less than Rs.20 (US$0.50) per day [ [ Always with us]] .


Post-independence television

Television first came to India (named as Doordarshan or DD) as the National Television Network of India. The first telecast started on September 15, 1959 in New Delhi. After a gap of about 13 years, second television station was established in Mumbai (Maharashtra) in 1972 and by 1975 there were five more television stations at Srinagar (Kashmir), Amritsar (Punjab), Calcutta (West Bengal), Madras (Tamil Nadu) and Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh). Until 1982, transmission was in black & white, when Doordarshan introduced colour during the 1982 Asian Games [ [ History of Television]] .


Indian small screen programming started off in the early 1980s. At that time there was only one national channel Doordarshan, which was government owned. The Ramayana and Mahabharat were the first major television series produced. This serial notched up the world record in viewer ship numbers for a single program. By the late 1980s more and more people started to own television sets. Though there was a single channel, television programming had reached saturation. Hence the government opened up another channel which had part national programming and part regional. This channel was known as DD 2 later DD Metro. Both channels were broadcast terrestrially.

Post Liberalisation Television

The central government launched a series of economic and social reforms in 1991 under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. Under the new policies the government allowed private and foreign broadcasters to engage in limited operations in India. This process has been pursued consistently by all subsequent federal administrations. Foreign channels like CNN, Star TV and domestic channels such as Zee TV and Sun TV started satellite broadcasts. Starting with 41 sets in 1962 and one channel (Audience Research unit, 1991) at present TV in India covers more than 70 million homes giving a viewing population more than 400 million individualsFact|date=July 2008 through more than 100 channels. A large relatively untapped market, easy accessibility of relevant technology Fact|date=February 2007 and a variety of programmes are the main reasons for rapid expansion of Television in India.

It must be stressed that Television Entertainment in India is one of the cheapest in the world.Fact|date=July 2008

Cable television

In 1992, the government liberated its markets, opening them up to cable television. Five new channels belonging to the Hong Kong based STAR TV gave Indians a fresh breath of life. MTV, STAR Plus, BBC, Prime Sports and STAR Chinese Channel were the 5 channels. Zee TV was the first private owned Indian channel to broadcast over cable. A few years later CNN, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel made its foray into India. Star expanded its bouquet introducing STAR World, STAR Sports, ESPN and STAR Gold. Regional channels flourished along with a multitude of Hindi channels and a few English channels. By 2001 HBO and History Channel were the other international channels to enter India. By 2001–2003, other international channels such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, VH1, Disney and Toon Disney came into foray. In 2003 news channels started to boom.

Entry of Music Channels. Movie based channels, How Soaps started dominating Indian Channels How are movie based channels performing. Role of TAM. How is TAM measured.

Audience Metrics

Television Metrics in India have gone through several phases in which it fragmented, consolidated and then fragmented again.


During the days of the single channel Doordarshan monopoly, DART (Doordarshan Audience Research Team was the only metric available. This used the notebook method of recordkeeping across 33 cities across India [ [ Identity and Consumerism on Television in India] AEJMC Archives] . DART continues to provide this information independent of the Private agencies. DART till this date is the only rating system that still measures audience metrics in Rural India [ [ DART report shows DD scoring high among rural audiences] ] .


In 1994, claiming a heterogeneous and fragmenting television market ORG-MARG introduced INTAM (Indian National Television Audience Measurement). Ex-officials of DD (Doordarshan) claimed that INTAM was introduced by vested commercial interests who only sought to break the monopoly of DD and that INTAM was significantly weaker in both sample size, rigour and the range of cities and regions covered. [ Why is TRP a contentious issue?] Screen India]

In 1997, a joint industry body appointed TAM (backed by AC Nielsen [ [ Company Profile]] ) as the official recordkeeper of audience metrics . Due to the differences in methodology and samples of TAM and INTAM, both provided differing results fo rthe same programs.

In 2001, a confidential list of households in Mumbai that were participating in the monitoring survey was released, calling into question the reliability of the data [ [ How real is Tam/Intam rating?] The Times of India] [ [ TRP rating: The slip is showing] Business Standard via] . This subsequently led to the merger of the two measurement systems into TAM [ [ Security Check: TAM, INTAM Try To Ensure Data Sanctity] Express cricket] . For several years after this, in spite of misgivings about the process, sample and other parameters, TAM was the defacto standard and monopoly in the audience metrics game. [ [ Quibbles apart, TAM is only currency industry can use]] .


In 2004, a rival ratings service, funded by a slew of American NRI investors, called aMAP was launched. [ [ New TV rating system to challenge TAM monopoly] The Times of India] [ aMap brings TV ratings online] Hindu Business Line] [
] Business Standard] . Although initially, it faced a cautious uptake from clients [ [ aMap is not a substitute for TAM. - Interview with Lynn de Souza]] , the TAM monopoly was broken.

aMap USP is that ratings are available as early as next day as compared to TAM's timeline of next week.

Broadcast Audience Research Council

An even newer industry body called Broadcast Audience Research Council, seeks to setup an almost real-time audience metrics system. Plans for this was announced in march 2008 and work is said to be in progress. [ [ rival to stare TAM in eyeball] Financial Express] [ [
] Business Standard

CAS - Conditional Access System

CAS or conditional access system, is a digital mode of transmitting TV channels through a set-top box (STB). The transmission signals are encrypted and viewers need to buy a set-top box to receive and decrypt the signal. The STB is required to watch only pay channels.

The idea of CAS was mooted in 2001, due to a furore over charge hikes by channels and subsequently by cable operators. Poor reception of certain channels; arbitrary pricing and increase in prices; bundling of channels; poor service delivery by Cable Television Operators (CTOs); monopolies in each area; lack of regulatory framework and redress avenues were some of the issues that were to be addressed by implementation of CAS

It was decided by the government that CAS would be first introduced in the four metros. It has been in place in Chennai since September 2003, where until very recently it had managed to attract very few subscribers. It has been rolled out recently in the other three metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

Benefits of CAS

All the involved players and the viewers (consumers) can benefit greatly CAS is rolled out across the country. However, vested interests and the price of STB's have been some of the reasons for delay in implementation of CAS all over India.

Consumers: Consumers get the option to choose the channels they want to pay for and view, rather than receiving the whole set of channels that the Cable Operator makes available to them, and hence benefit by having to pay only for the channels they want to watch. Currently, in most of India, there is no segregation and subscribers pay a blanket rate for the entire service.

Cable Operators: Cable operators get the opportunity to pay a part of the subscription fees to the broadcasters only for the actual number of end users who opt for the channel, rather than all households having cable access. This will help streamline their infrastructure, operations and reduce points of dispute with the MSO's and broadcasters by being able to disclose the exact number of subscribers for each channel.

Broadcasters: Broadcasters have a long-standing complaint that the Cable Operators under-declare the actual number of subscribers, and hence pass on only a fraction of the paid subscriptions. With a system like this in place, it is possible to address the exact number of subscribers with a cable operator.

Advertisers: CAS gives a far more accurate indicator of programme popularity with only the actual subscribers of each channel being accounted for.

Government: Since the issue of addressibility ensures a fair degree of transparency in accounting across the entire value chain, it minimizes the loss of revenues to the government through mis-reporting or non-disclosure of actual revenue figures. The government also facilitates the introduction and development of consumer friendly systems like pay per view, interactive programming, etc.

At the time of writing this update (April 22, 2008) according to estimates, only 25 per cent of the people have subscribed the new technology. The rest watch only free-to-air channels. As mentioned above, the inhibiting factor from the viewer's perspective is the cost of the STB.

The Indian TV regulatory authority has recommended that all Cable operators be given 5 years to change from the analogue system to the digital platform(July 2008)

DTH - Direct to Home

DTH is defined as the reception of satellite programmes with a personal dish in an individual home.

DTH does not compete with CAS. Cable TV and DTH are two methods of delivery of television content. CAS is integral to both the systems in delivering pay channels.

Cable TV is through cable networks and DTH is wireless, reaching direct to the consumer through a small dish and a set-top box. Although the government has ensured that free-to-air channels on cable are delivered to the consumer without a set-top box, DTH signals cannot be received without the set-top box.

India currently has 4 major DTH service providers and a total of over 5 million subscriber households. Dish TV(a ZEE TV subsidiary), Tata Sky,Reliance owned BIG TV and the public sector DD Direct. Next in the lineup are Bharti Airtel's DTH service and Videocon's DTH service, all lined up for launch within 2008. BIG TV launched India's first HDTV channels on its platform besides bringing in more niche programming. Also, beginning with BIG TV, the latest entrants in DTH business are all launching the services using the latest MPEG-4 digital compression, leading to higher no. of channels and much better picture quality.

ee also

*List of Indian television stations


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