By Vibodh Parthasarathi

I – Distribution, and Why it Matters


Distribution is the least explored area in the otherwise widening study of television in India. Even in wider research on the media in India, which tends to focus largely on consumption and, less so, on production, the dynamics of distribution has invariably been ignored. Undoubtedly, scholarship on television in India has moved out from its genesis in, and obsession with, reception (SITE onwards) and effects studies, to embrace issues of trans-national broadcasting, programming genres, and increasingly, aspects of consumption (REF). However, even after nearly two decades of Cable & Satellite (C&S) TV, the importance of distribution continues to be analytically unappreciated. Many a writing mention, with varied emphases & routine, aspects of distribution—sometimes tangentially, other times even inadvertently. But there has been no systematic and detailed attempt to study this domain as a pivot of the contemporary television industry.

By distribution we refer to a complex of institutional practices involving the encounter—cultural, technological & commercial—with television images. At a conceptual level, these institutional practices comprise of the creation, organisation and sustenance of the physical infrastructure facilitating the encounter of viewers with televised symbols, with the economic framework linking the household with broadcasters and satellite owners. Increasingly, it also comprises of encounters with other media segments and mediated experiences (telecom, internet), and the business of governing all these inter-twined practices. It would be a methodological shortcut and conceptual flaw to view distribution as merely a blind-spot in scholarship—whose addressal could enrich standing accounts of television. Rather, if distribution is understood as the kernel of the television industry—as entrepreneurs have long realised and policy-makers are gradually recognising—then we must think afresh the very construction of Cable & Satellite TV as an object of inquiry—and consequently, as a specific terrain of media governance.

There are numerous inter-related reasons why distribution matters, to the study of television in contemporary India.

For one, its significance is palpable empirically in the financial, macro-economic and regulatory worth indicated by this segment of the television industry. Distribution is a key driver and the largest employer of the television industry; it has also been a pioneer in facilitating new commercial arrangements. There are two historical moments that signify the rising importance of Distribution: In 1998, ad revenue of private TV overtook that of DD; and in 2006, revenue from C&S distribution/subscription overtook those from broadcast advertising.

The centrality of distribution is also evident conceptually, in terms of its role in shaping what we see, and how our seeing comes to be socially orchestrated. This has contributed to the analytical potency of distribution, as it brings into relief the importance of the local as the site for weighing the implications of trans-national flows, and for investigating the efficacy of national media policy.

More fundamentally, if distribution is a constitutive element normalising the technological order of broadcasting and reception, it provides a case to examine the contribution of media technology in structuring social life—especially in, and through, the creation of spatial and territorial frontiers. Recognising that the spatial and physical contours of wider social activity in our times are gradually being constituted by, and exist in the form of, new kinds of polycentric interests and multidimensional arrangements, our particular emphases on distribution holds an untapped purchase: it imparts an epistemological re-formulation of the study of C&S television as a network order.

Before we explore each of these, it would be fruitful to foreground what the prism of distribution tells on standing trends—methodological, empirical, analytical & theoretical—in the study of television in India.


The Standing Contours of Research:

Methodological, Empirical, Analytical & Theoretical


Beneath ‘the Televised’ (The Methodological trend)

At the immediate level, a focus on distribution compels us to review the centrality of ‘the televised’ in the study of television in India. A basic assumption held by a large number of students of television studies have been that it entails is the study of televised audio-visual—their production, reception, consumption, effects.

During the 60s and 70s, academic and policy initiatives drew on the notion of ‘message’ to define the contours of investigating television. In the 80s, when commercial programming on PSB began, drew on the idea of ‘software’ to define the priorities of programming[1]. Trends over the last decade and a half mobilised the metaphor of ‘Text’ in constituting televised images as an object of analysis. It is noteworthy that the articulation of televisuals in relation to its circumscribing social contexts, political dynamics and cultural tradition, ended up creating arguments based on analysing ‘narrative structures’[2] or ‘reading’ specific texts[3]. The attraction to internal ‘textual operations’ and ‘narrative devices’ made it difficult for scholars to go beyond considering the televised—either in itself, or as a starting point—to grasp television reception and consumption. On the other hand, even when scholars employed the broader category of broadcasting as an ‘institution’, especially in the context of media trans-nationalism, the primary unit of analysis tended to remain the televised[4].

In this intellectual milieu[5], this raises the problem of how to enable the study of television (pre-defined as textuality) to consider its relationship to deeper institutional structures, and larger historical settings, in which broadcasting and distribution have unfolded. The study of distribution, and of television through distribution, offers a significant way around, and even through, this problem. For, if television is seen from the prism of distribution, it renders televised texts as commoditified experiences that are integral to the political economy of C&S broadcasting. Such a sight of contemporary television ecology not only make the trendy studies of reception and consumption grounded in a wider social and commercial order, but it underscores distribution as an integral part of their analytical canvas. In doing so, it questions, on the one hand, the, often ridiculously, abstract conception of the televised as codes and language, based on a certain derivatives of structural linguistics; and on the other hand, it questions the perimeters of the validity of the televised image as being a unique interaction of people and media at a specific place and occasion—perimeters which began being redefined by the advent of multi-channel broadcasting and multi-platform distribution. In fact, the opportunities for highly customised distribution emerging with the advent of DTH has offset the very premise of television texts as un-differentiated commodities and, or consequently, of homogenous ‘textual operations’/‘narrative structures’ of televisuals—a phenomenon most amplified in the distribution/viewing of live cricket feeds[6].

Thus, a substantial engagement with distribution would contribute towards offsetting the key theoretical and empirical basis of text-centric studies of television. This is not to argue that the televised is irrelevant, tertiary or even an epi-phenomenon. The way any consideration of televised experience and/or meaning cannot exclude its dynamic encounter with its viewers, it also cannot ignore its relationship with the network of its creators, transmitters and retailers. Acknowledging this scenario will expand the very epistemology of C&S TV: for, the study of distribution— including that of televised texts as a mass produced but differentiated commodity—enables us to pose a different set of questions about how ‘the televised’ come to be broadcast/transmitted/received at different times, places and spaces. And in doing so, it helps realise that reception and consumption are an integral part, if not the inward impelling causes, of broadcasting.

Such a re-conception has consequences for how we can relate television texts to their wider contexts, and to historical processes in general; how one re-constructs the object of television studies in an era of media abundance; and, how to visualise the terrain and scope of media governance[7].

 After ‘Broadcasting’ (The Empirical baggage)

An important step in re-constructing the object of television studies entails identifying a potent entry-point for investigations. Quite evidently, a shift from broadcasting to distribution provides one such entry point; its potency gets enhanced and offers enhanced returns if our efforts entail, not just responding to but, grounding our investigations in the techno-commercial complexities of C&S TV in contemporary India.

Television Studies of various hues in India since their inception have been concerned with the dynamics of terrestrial broadcasting. The only exceptions to this were the series of studies on narrow-casting associated with SITE and its aftermath during the 1970s. We must recall that this was in an era when proponents of leapfrogging imposed the indispensability of technologies of broadcasting and narrowcasting in development programmes. This was illustrative of a Popperian instance of necessitating controlled experimentation towards social engineering, within this discursive field, wherein the role of researchers was largely confined to locating appropriate societal contexts for initiatives like SITE[8]. Consequently, their research congenitally got structured by the demands of, and thus preoccupied with, evaluating the efficacy of the ‘technological fix’[9] entailing initiatives in narrow-casting[10]. Scholarship two decades later, while grounded in methodological and theoretically more critical frameworks, continued to engage with the milieu of terrestrial television—perhaps because of their inability to traverse being products of their times[11].

Two observations require foregrounding. First, in the pre-Cable era, ‘broadcasting’ and ‘distribution’ signified one, seamless phenomenon and were part of a common institutional and economic dynamics—they were differentiated in narrow technological terms. Although distribution took place either via satellite or through a relay of transmitters, or a combination of both, the distribution and broadcasting ‘segments’ were owned and operated by the government, through varied institutional arrangements[12]. Secondly, the principal difference between the emergence of C&S TV in India (and South Asia in general) and elsewhere (especially in East Asia, Western Europe & North America) lies in the character of their television milieu. While in the latter, a multi-channel television milieu existed long before the advent of C&S TV, in India it was the proliferation of cable distribution that was directly responsible for propelling a multi-channel environment of broadcasting in the private sector[13].

Taken together, these observations suggest that the emergence of satellite television and cable distribution—thus the phrase ‘C&S’ television— signified the end of broadcasting in the literal, historical & technological sense of the term[14].

 As a corollary, the proliferation of C&S TV has demanded reviewing the key empirical assumptions of research during four decades of (terrestrial) television in India—assumptions that persisted well into the second decade of C&S TV. This concerns the assumption of a homogenous commercial and cognitive space created by the unified techno-institutional order of terrestrial broadcasting. While the drawbacks of cognitive assumptions were touched upon in our critique of the centrality of ‘the televised’, revising the conjecture of a homogenous commercial space is more empirical than conceptual. The urgency in reassessing these, fifteen years after the de-centring of terrestrial television, is called for by the rapid expansion of C&S television. But above all, given the complexity of multi-channel broadcasting and multi-platform distribution, it is also demanded by the increasingly higher growth-rate of C&S homes compared to terrestrial-TV homes.

A reassessment of research directions is particularly called for at this point because numerous issues in television policy, and distribution policy in particular, remain either under-addressed, or addressed in an under-informed manner. At another level, insights from the standpoint and study of TV distribution will aid in better understanding media industries in India that are characterised by the centrality of (techno-institutional) intermediaries. This will contribute to broader examinations of the interface between information-communication technologies and disembodied goods in the digital age[15], to which we shall return later.

 Traversing ‘the National’ (The Analytical Canvas)

Precisely because television studies emerged in the milieu of terrestrial broadcasting, its core concerns found locus on the dual issues of ‘the nation’ and ‘the national’—given the cultural geography spawned by a specific adoption of terrestrial technology in India. Despite the eclipse of nationally bound terrestrial TV, a large proportion of scholarship during the 90s continued to be inspired by theoretical concerns privileging such an, often dual, Nation-centricism.

The intensification of trans-national broadcasting led to the infusion of concerns over identity—sometimes uncannily resonating populist rhetoric of politicians and cultural activism of the Right. Perhaps, this may have further moored scholarly analyses within the framework of the nation and the national. Some demonstrated the deployment of hybrid programming to accommodate the tensions between globalised, internationalized programmes and demands for indigenous content[16]; others inter-related the apparent success of hybrid programming and indigenous models of broadcasting culture[17]; still others investigated the emergence of a new form of cultural nationalism based on the active and self-conscious indigenization of global media[18]. Even in other attempts to sketch the contours for understanding the C&S era—and when the state had to accommodate private and trans-national forces—the canvas of inquiry was limited to the nation[19]. While this is not the place to assess the purchase of these studies, such preoccupations have willy-nilly bypassed addressing the local—in terms of a site to grasp both, the imprints of the nation and the national, and the social organisation characterising modernity.

The exception would be certain scholarship in reception studies, which necessarily have to be local. Others found that audiences construct a sense of generational, national, and global identity in a manner that calls for a deeper understanding of cultural imperialism and audience reception[20]. Here however, the examination of viewers’ reception, consumption and interpretation of the televisual is such that its scope largely continues to grasp the articulation of the nation and national concerns; more importantly, its approach does so at the cost of examining the immediate, structuring contexts within which such acts take place[21]. We have been long reminded that critical efforts must be directed at, not immediate acts of consumption and response but, analysing the underlying structures that provide the contexts and resources for audience activity[22]. In other words, it is the approach to explanation, rather than the nature of explanation, that has prevented reception studies from engaging substantially with the local dynamics of the organisation of television—which does have implications on the cultural practices of television viewership. In thinking about possible contours of researching audiences, we recognise the import of questions that could reflect the distinctively Indian conditions of the medium and its reception[23]. Having said this, one also senses that there would be greater traction in recognising that such ‘conditions’ are shaped by local encounters—organisational, commercial and social—with the televised, and perhaps even with television as an object[24], rather than the presumably, and a uniformly, ‘national’ ones.

Interestingly enough, the study of distribution centred on the milieu of the ‘last mile’ has much to offer to both, the adherents and critics of nation/national-centric television studies. Insights from the dynamics of distribution in neighbourhoods, in pockets of mega-cities and small-towns dominated by one cable-operator are vital to better understand the articulation of broadcasting and the nation—as local experiences/histories may not necessarily correspond with the, often arguable, meta-narratives of the nation, and of trans-nationalism in general. Such an approach would dovetail well with reception studies wanting to question—and not validate, as most do—the permeation of meta-narratives.

On the other hand, a bottom-up approach rooted in a perspective of distribution also provides something for those wanting to question the limits and sanctity of the national political economy as a common space of television culture. Rather than doing so from a trans-national standpoint, such a bottom-up approach could elucidate the processes on which their critique rests—principally, how, and to what extent, wired and now wireless distribution have come to shape a highly differentiated platform for television consumption.

Thus, apart from bringing into relief the importance of the local in the nation-centric approaches—be they affirmative or critical—a bottom-up approach to TV Studies, anchored in distribution, also questions the primacy of the nation as the terrain for investigating media policy, and for weighing the implications of trans-national flows.

Precisely because broadcasting was cradled in Europe as a national instrument, early efforts at forging interdependence amongst public broadcasters in response to private satellite television—which negated national boundaries, legislations and regulations—had to transcend longstanding national assumptions prevailing in most member states of the then European Economic Community[25]. Since satellite technologies are agnostic to national and physical boundaries, many a transitional society[26] are grappling with the problem of applying and/or re-organising national legislation. In this context it must be emphasised that in most European countries and many others elsewhere, a multi-channel TV landscape existed before the advent of private C&S channels—since terrestrial TV in these countries entailed more than one, including private, players. In contrast, in India a genuinely multi-channel TV landscape emerged only with the advent of private, trans-border C&S channels. This implied that the reorganization of national TV legislation took place in India primarily in response to, and not in anticipation of, the genesis of a separate distribution segment (i.e. cable) within the TV industry.

 Innards of ‘the Modern’ (The Theoretical frame)

 An overarching theme of television studies in India—be they centred on the textual in approach, the terrestrial or the territorial—is their engagement with ideas and processes of ‘the modern’. This forms the largest subset of scholarship in terms of theoretical preoccupation, cutting across methodological preferences and historical moments of inquiry. These echo the concerns of a wider body of examinations on the encounter with modernity—during colonial or post-colonial India—in and through other communication technologies[27].

The engagement of television studies with ‘the modern’ has witnessed three broad phases. Earliest writings were fired to examine, or evaluate, the role of television programming in modernisation processes[28]. Governed by a ‘transportational’ view of the media embraced by early communication research and television policy in India[29], such concerns periodically re-emerged in various guises: either in the context of development communication[30], or the more rounded examinations of social change[31]. Subsequently, there were varied endeavours to collapse the study of television and the televised as part of the wider narratives of the nation and its modernities[32]. Finally, with the intensification of a multi-channel environment, scholars chose to emphasise the encounter with modernity through TBB: i.e. by examining how and why viewers find new expressions of their Indian identity through regional/vernacular channels, or seamlessly shift from national to trans-national affinities. While engagements reflected during the latter two phases sharply contrasts—in method and emphasis—the instrumental understanding of television and/in modernisation in the first phase, all three trends arise from a common intellectual quest of modernity. And, further, the core of these works rest on an epistemology that professes the mediation of modernity through the televisual—be it on the basis of its manifest content, it language & grammar, or it flows.

It is in re-mooring this intellectual and epistemological path, that our emphasis on distribution could make a contribution. For, in sharp contrast, we propose a fundamental shift: from asking how televisuals mediate modernity to asking how the social organisation of visuality, wherein distribution is playing an increasing and important role, carries the imprints of modernity. In advocating a move from away analysing essentially ideological, semiotic or even socio-psychological processes, to those indicating material configurations and institutional processes, we can unearth the deeper[33] rapport between television and modernity—or, more precisely, between television and the constitution of modernity in India.

Adopting a vantage point resting on distribution enables us to problematise two, intra-related, sets of relationships characterising the modernity constituted by the television industry in India.

The first pertains to the rapport between the still largely informal economies of ‘last mile’ distribution, and the highly-structured economic order of trans-border broadcasting; this, in turn, also tempers the inter-relations between the dynamics playing out in the local milieu and the compulsions shaping national regulatory frameworks. In other words, our emphasis on distribution provides a way to radically re-conceive the local-transnational and local-nation relationships in an era of media abundance.

The second set concerns the relationship between media technology and the structuring of the social, as unfolding in the sphere of television distribution; this, furthermore, has implications for grasping the connections between the salience of television viewers as consumers and as citizens. For, if distribution be seen as a site where territory and spatiality get technologically re-ordered, then it has direct bearing on standing conceptions of the way viewers have been politically and economically produced.

*          *          *

These four vectors substantiate our rationale, while reiterating our initial premise, about the potential offered by the prism of distribution to enhance the fields of both TV studies and TV policy in India.

Distribution as the Site for studying Regulation

Prasar Bharti Corporation the only terrestrial television broadcaster in India, owned by the Government of India, operates several channels under the umbrella brand of “Doordarshan”. In addition to its national channels, Doordarshan broadcasts several regional language channels that are broadcast by its broadcasting stations in particular geographical areas of the country. Most DD channels are received thru antennas from proximate broadcasting stations—which makes Doordarshan to be potentially accessed by all TV households[34]. For all the transformation brought to Indian television by C&S TV, DD remains the dominant broadcaster for marginal/weaker socio-economic groups across the country.

C&S broadcasters uplink their channels, from India & overseas, to satellites that provide the downlink signals to a wide region, which in most cases covers several countries other than India; downlink signals are received by distributors (MSOs) through equipments that include dish antennas, amplifiers, and decoders. The distribution of C&S TV to households is then carried out thru wire/cable by numerous ‘last mile’ operators—franchises of MSOs or LCOs—who has created a complex and fragmented set of suppliers. The average number of channels received by a representative C&S household increased from 2 in 1992 to over 200 today.

In the last 7 years, there is a slow but definite increase in the adoption of competing distribution platforms. Principal among these is Direct to Home reception technology, thru which channels can be received by individual television sets. Unlike cable, DTH does not require a ground-base, wire-dependent networks of cable relays[35]. Moreover, the nature of technology congenitally enables a pan national coverage, which is impossible for even the largest MSOs. This gives DTH operators a significant variable cost advantage in markets where demographic density (of potential C&S viewers) is low—such as the Himalayan states. While ‘must carry’ regulatory protocols demand at least three DD channels are to be offered by all cable operators, DTH operators are obliged to provide five DD channels.

The prism of distribution offers a number of perspectives on policy studies for the television industry in India.

  1. Unlike other communication/information carriage systems like telegraphy, wired telephony and mobile telephony, distribution systems in TV (i.e. Cable) emerged in India as a private enterprise well before a policy framework was in place.
  2. Cable and DTH do not fit neatly into policy frameworks established either for other carrier services agnostic to the information being transmitted, or for the providers of original expression like newspapers, cinema, broadcasting and publishing.
  3. Cable emerged as a substitute to a highly regulated and centripetal service of terrestrial broadcasting by DD. It is not surprising that it was soon perceived as a rival to the established terrestrial television: but since DD could not curtail C&S due to the wider discourse of liberalisation and privatisation, it forced itself on to cable distributors through “must carry” protocols.
  4. Cable & DTH illustrate of how markets operate to thwart regulators’ attempts to cross-subsidize public service. By multiplying the number of channels available, cable incrementally increased the competition for terrestrial/state broadcaster, and thereby denting the latter’s ability to offer public service, whatever be its quality & biases in India.
  5. Unlike the West where cable emerged in a milieu that already consisted of multi-channel and private broadcasting, the spectrum scarcity-based model of single-channel terrestrial broadcasting in India was inappropriate for a medium like Cable or DTH that could potentially provide limitless channel capacity.
  6. Cable & DTH provides an excellent example of how difficult it is to restrict market entry in network technologies wherein there are not only multiple technological options but technologies itself change rapidly. This has fuelled some early arguments that if technological change is sufficiently rapid, deregulation may be unavoidable in almost any sector[36].
  7. That Cable & DTH facilitate the relay of programming uplinked from abroad makes it a complex case of regulating trans-national trade in media content—be the content transacted be viewed as a product or a service.
  8. After policy analysts recognised distributors to play a determining role in mediating viewers’ access to broadcasters, the idea of Exposure Diversity emerged—viz. variations felt by viewers due to the means of financial and technical access to content suppliers. Since subscribers commercially interact with Cable and DTH distributors more directly than with broadcasters, Exposure Diversity examines what audience actually have access to, rather than what producers of content generate.
  9. Cable offers a way to examine the regulation of vertical mergers in the television industry as a whole, and their impact on viewer/consumer welfare. Vertical integration aims at achieving market foreclosure, i.e. denying rivals access to an input (a channel) towards enhancing market power. Scholars have often suggested that vertical integration entails efficiency improving effects that ultimately lower prices, improve product quality and thus increase consumer welfare[37]. The strategic deployment of vertical integration in the Cable and DTH businesses is principally to internalise the cost of inputs and lower transaction costs (carriage fee), control the choice of product mix, and directly manage the price of the service (subscription)—thus, benefiting more the firm than the consumer.
  10. Despite legislative interventions in the early years of the advent of cable, the government had no specific body to regulate the TV distribution segment. And when it did, it did so through a regulatory entity (TRAI) that was created for an entirely different sector of the communication industry (Telecom).

Notes & References

[1] Government of India (1985) An lndian Personality for Television; Report of the Working Group on Software for Doordarshan (2 Vols.); Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, New Delhi. The first volume was published as, Joshi, P. C. (1989) Culture, Communication and Social Change; Vikas, New Delhi.

[2] Rajagopal, Arvind (2001) Politics after Television; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. In chapter 5, he makes connections between the creation of a visual regime in the serialisation of ‘Ramayan’ and the public responses to similar visual dimensions in the Ram Janmabhumi movement.

[3] Mitra, A (1993) Television and Popular Culture in India: A study of the Mahabharata; Sage, New Delhi. Brosius, C. & Butcher, M. (Ed.) (1999) Image Journeys: Audio Visual Media and Cultural Change in India, Sage, New Delhi. Similar considerations have also led to the call for reviewing the centrality of ‘the text’ in the study of other sectors of the media, as amply visible/voiced in works on cinema (Heath/Seminar & Shoesmith), music (anthro-musicology) and recorded music (????), publishing (book history), advertising (Jhally et al????), besides in multi-technique works on TV itself (Mankekar). Some of these are voiced in the excellent editorial introduction to a provocatively eponymous anthology on visual culture in India; see Ramaswamy, S. (Ed.) (2003) Beyond Appearances?: Visual Practices and Ideologies in Modern India; Sage, New Delhi.

[4] Kewal Kumar, NDTV…………… the construction of subject positions by televisuals (????), the political and cultural effects of texts (Krishnan 1990; Singhal & Rogers 1989, and more recently Jensen & Oster 2007), the relationship between texts and the specific socio-political circumstances in which they are embedded (Krishnan & Dighe 1990; Punwani 1988, Rajagopal 2001).

[5] This echoes the methodological thrusts and theoretical concerns prevalent in scholarship on that other institution of mass produced visuality: Cinema. In her critique of film studies as practiced in India, Srinivas enumerates the predominance of similar concerns and emphases, albeit in providing a rationale and need for a phenomenology of spectatorship; see, Lakshmi Srinivas (2002) ‘The active audience: spectatorship, social relations and the experience of cinema in India’; Media, Culture & Society Vol. 24/2 pp.155–173 “Film studies in India, guided by a Western bias, appear not to have progressed beyond a reflection hypothesis and effects research. Studies analyse film content for ideological messages, examine film as myths, numerous work on directors, stars and retrospectives; more sociologically directed studies have either examined films as reflections of society and of social change, or as articulations of identity.”

[6] Through the techno-commercial combination of feeds provided by producer/broadcasters like Nimbus and relays distributed by DTH like TataSky, different subscribers can ‘tune’ the visual frames and narrative structures of a live telecast.

This is not to deny that in certain streams of Cinema Studies have also recognised the limits of purely text-based studies; for instance, Willemen criticises the belief of a single, stable point that guarantees meaning prevalent in most audience studies of cinema REF

[7] EG Focus on the televised object limits the ambit of policy debates to traditional frameworks of governmentality—content code, advertising code, censorship etc.

[8] B. Das, V. Parthasarathi, G. Poitevin (2005) ‘Investigation Communication: Remooring the Contours of Research’, in B. Bel, J. Brouwer, B. Das, V. Parthasarathi, G. Poitevin (Ed.) Communication Process – Vol. 1: Media and Mediation; Sage New Delhi.

[9] ‘Dangers of a Technological Fix’

[10] This made them explore various dimensions of motivations, efficacy & effectiveness; this, turn, led to vocabularies being imported into communication research in general such as effect/behavioural studies, diffusion studies, impact/programatic studies et al. Agarwal, B.C (1976) Media Anthropology and Rural Development: Some observations on SITE; ISRO, Ahmedabad. -(1977) Social Impact of SITE on Adults; Space Application Centre, ISRO, Ahmedabad. -(1981) SITE Social Evaluation: Results, Experiences and Implications; Space Application Centre; Ahmedabad. For a detailed review of wider works of SITE, see Agarwal (2000)

[11] The more insightful examined how and why the state deployed terrestrial broadcasting to create a “consensus narrative”, albeit inferring that this resulted in neither a successful propaganda machinery nor a genuine public broadcast service; for instance, see Nilanjana Gupta (1998) Switching Channels. Ideologies of Television in India; OUP, New Delhi. Tracing how TV partook and reflected the wider transformation in the state from a developmental to a more globalised regime, she describes (esp. in Chapter 3) the shift from indigenous “pro-development” soaps to a more diverse array of programming, including mythologicals, indigenized Hollywood soaps and regional programming.

[12] This scenario was similar to that in France even today, where the state continues to play a major role in defining the function of television through legislative and regulatory mea­sures, some of which are determined by objectives not imminent to media—as evident in the development of the cable systems; see Niels Lutzhöft & Marcel Machill (1999) ‘The Economics of French Cable Systems as Reflected in Media Policy’; Journal of Media Economics Vol.12 No.3 pp181-199. This also illustrates the vibrant role of the French state in the complex and changing statutory framework governing tele­vision.

[13] Two related annotations are called for. First, although the practice of cable relay existed before the 90s in large industrial townships like Jamshedpur, the relay consisted of video programmes and not re-distributed satellite feeds. Secondly, in the earliest years of satellite TV, the principal reception technology was dish, which demanded high investments by the viewer and was thus limited to high-income urban households.

[14] It could be argued that this, more accurately, signified the end of one phase of terrestrial broadcasting in Indian television history, as such a qualification takes into account the proposed de-regulation of terrestrial broadcasting in India; see TRAI ?

[15] Wolf, Michael J. (1999) The Entertainment Economy; Times Books, New York

[16] McMillan (2001)

[17] W. Page & D. Crawley ‘The Transnational and the National’ + D. Thussu ‘The Transnationalization of Television’, in Chalaby, Jean K. (Ed.) (2005) Transnational Television Worldwide: Towards a New Media Order; I.B. Tauris, London/New York.

[18] Jocelyn Cullity (2002) ‘The Global Desi: Cultural Nationalism on MTV India’; Journal of Communication Inquiry Vol. 26 No. 4 pp.408-425.

[19] EG last chapter of Nilanjana Gupta (1998), specifically the interplay of national integration and national identity, as in a case of Star TV in India, Peter Shields & Sundeep Muppidi (1996) ‘Integration, the India state and Star TV: Policy and theory issues’; Gazette Vol. 58

[20] Vamsee Juluri (2002) ‘Music Television and the Invention of Youth Culture in India’; Television New Media Vol. 3 No. 4 (pp. 367–386). The political economy of satellite TV in post-liberalization India has ensured the construction of a music television audience that is neither anti-national, nor anti-elder (p.369). The study infers that while the emerging youth culture does not seem confrontational in generational or national terms, it is not so much a case of audience resistance as that of co-optation by global forces.

[21] Mankekar, in Brosius &

[22] Murdock (1989:227)

[23] Pavarala (19?? :103)

[24] As a different rendition of reception studies, an examination of the relationship between viewers and television sought to grasp the way television acquires meaning as a cultural object, and, its implications on the relationships of everyday life; see Das, B. (????) ‘From SITE to Satellite Television: Memory and Biography in an Indian Village’, in Television and Everyday Life in Rural Rajasthan, Report of collaborative project by the Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia & IRCAV Sorbonne, University of Paris; New Delhi/Paris.

[25] Wedell, George (1986) ‘The Establishment of the Common Market for Broadcasting in Western Europe’; International Political Science Review Vol. 7 No. 3 pp. (281-297) p282

[26] Rozanova, Julia (2007) ‘Quo Vadis? Public Television in the Context of Established and Emerging Democracies’; International Communication Gazette Vol. 69 No.?? pp.129-??

[27] Such a thrust is found in the writings by historians, sociologists and more recently anthropologists examining recorded music, photography and publishing; ?????

[28] This, in turn, forms the legacy of the emphasis in earliest state interventions in television and radio.

[29] Biswajit Das, Vibodh Parthasarathi, Guy Poitevin (2005) ‘Investigation Communication: Remooring the Contours of Research’, in B. Bel, J. Brouwer, B. Das, V. Parthasarathi, G. Poitevin (Ed.) Communication Process – Vol. 1: Media and Mediation; Sage New Delhi.

[30] Nair et al

[31] Johnson, Kirk (2000) Television and Social change in Rural India; Sage, New Delhi. Johnson, Kirk (2001) ‘Media and Social Change: the Modernizing Influences of Television in Rural India’; Media, Culture and Society Vol.23 No.2 pp.147-169.

Timothy J Scrase (2002) ‘Television, the Middle Classes and the Transformation of Cultural Identities in West Bengal, India’ Gazette Vol. 64 No. 4 (pp.323–342)

How television ‘negotiates modernity’ for individuals and social groups; Nilanjana Gupta 1998-Chapter 5

Johnson, Kirk (2001) ‘Media and Social Change: the Modernizing Influences of Television in Rural India’; Media, Culture and Society Vol.23 No.2 (pp.147-169)

[32] Multiple REF

[33] ‘Base and Superstructure’ William’s ‘deeper’ political economy is especially pertinent here because it lays emphasis on the material origins of superstructural phenomenon.

[34] During the 1980s, the government made major investments in developing a national television infrastructure. Although the number of people “reached by television” grew from 156 million in 1979 to 500 million in 1988, actual access lagged far behind official statistics because the number of television sets had only reached 11 million by 1988; Mankekar, P. (1999) Screening Culture, Viewing Politics; Durham/NC. Duke University Press (p. 56)

[35] After Direct Plus by DD, the Zee group launched its DTH services in 2007, followed by Tata-Sky & Sumangali by SUN. As of Apr 2014, DTH had ?? million subscribers.

[36] Stanley M. Besen, Robert W. Crandall (1981) ‘The Deregulation of Cable Television’; Law and Contemporary Problems Vol. 44/1 pp.77-124 (p.78)

[37] Tasneem Chipty (2001) ‘Vertical Integration, Market Foreclosure, and Consumer Welfare in the Cable Television Industry’; The American Economic Review Vol. 91/3. pp. 428-453