Nat Geo Channels would have to shut down if further restrictions are imposed

NGC Network India Pvt Ltd has told TRAI to refrain from making any changes to the existing regime, which could have significant adverse consequences for NGC and would result in long-term losses and irreparable consequences for stakeholders.

In its submission to the TRAI‘s consultation paper ‘Tariff related for broadcasting and cable services’, NGC Network stated that at the outset, Star India Pvt. Ltd., which is a group company of NGC Network (India) Ltd., has filed a detailed response to the CP vide its response dated 23″ September 2019. It supports the said response and adopts all the submissions contained therein as part of NGC’s present response. The contents of Star’s response may be read as part and parcel of our submissions.

The network pointed out that the nature of the content on NGC’s channels is primarily targeted at informing, educating and creating awareness amongst consumers/viewers in an entertaining manner so as to make learning fun. Some of this content is acquired and translated into regional and local languages such as Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu while the rest is produced by NGC locally by employing Indian creators, authors, and musicians.

However, such content may have very limited audiences and thus, may not have mass viewership. Since NGC channels have limited viewership (thereby limited subscription revenue), to recoup its costs of production, and thus to be able to have the capacity to stay afloat and reinvest back into content creation, NGC has to ensure substantial revenue through advertisements in order to sustain and continue providing the channels, let alone quality content.

Since viewership is directly proportionate to a channel’s reach, the only way available for NGC channels to survive is if they can be made available to consumers in bouquets along with other channels so that NGC channels can have a higher reach to be able to garner higher ad revenues.

In its closing comments it said that if TRAI continues with its consultation exercise and implements its proposals, it is possible that NGC will not be able to sustain in the absence of ad revenue which it can currently earn through bundling.

The broadcaster said that the current proposals opened for consideration by TRAI in the CP seem to be biased against permitting purportedly ‘unpopular’ channels to be clubbed in a bouquet. We are presuming here that by ‘unpopular’ channels, TRAI is relying upon the viewership data and insinuating that channels that do not have mass subscriptions are ‘unpopular’. If this is the case, then even NGC channels would be deemed ‘unpopular’ and restrictions upon bundling of purported ‘unpopular’ channels in a bouquet would effectively be the death knell for channels such as NGC that provide niche, informative, and children’s programming.

It pointed that after the implementation of NTO in order to survive, NGC had to rebrand two of its channels – Nat Geo People HC and Nat Geo Music HC to National Geographic Tamil and National Geographic Telugu. If further restrictions are imposed on the basis of purported ‘popularity’ or ‘unpopularity’ of a channel, NGC channels would effectively have to close down.


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