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New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has proposed streamlining of broadcast licensing processes by defining clear-cut timelines for various permissions required by the broadcasting companies to operate.

In its recommendations on ‘ease of doing business in broadcast sector’, Trai suggested that the security clearances required for broadcasting services (which have to be granted by ministry of home affairs) should be given within a stipulated time period of 60 days. At present, there is no time frame in which such clearance has to be given.

The period of 60 days will be applicable to permissions required by broadcasting companies as well as direct-to-home (DTH) operators. “The stakeholders have commented that there had been instances where MHA (ministry of home affairs) took considerable time, sometimes stretching up to 9-12 months, in granting security clearance, thereby creating a lot of uncertainty about their business plans," the regulator said in its recommendations.

Trai has also proposed that all processes involved in obtaining an array of permissions for broadcasting services should be completed within 6 months from the date of application. This includes the time taken to grant clearances by the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry, Wireless Planning & Coordination (WPC), Department of Space (DoS), ministry of home affairs and Network Operations and Control Centre (NOCC).

The recommendations by Trai have been submitted to the I&B ministry for approval.

Additionally, it said that if an existing broadcasting company already has a valid security clearance and seeks permissions for additional satellite TV channels, the process of seeking fresh security clearance from the ministry of home affairs should be done away with.

The regulator has also recommended that WPC should allocate spectrum for commercial satellite usage throughout the year, as against the current window of three or six months. “The current procedure of intermittent opening of window neither has any stated objective nor it ensures judicious use of space spectrum… the authority is of the view that the WOL (wireless operating licence) should be valid for period equivalent to service licence/permission period (that is ten years, against the current validity of one year)," Trai said.

The regulator has also suggested the government to set up an online portal for broadcasters, teleport operators, and distributors of TV channels (DTH operators/headend-in-the-sky operators/multi-system operators) to facilitate the filing and processing of applications.

Trai had initiated a consultation paper to facilitate the ease of doing business in the broadcast sector in July 2017 and had sought comments from various stakeholders to create a conducive and business-friendly environment in the sector. An open house discussion on the same was also conducted in 2017.

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