Government assures support, minimal regulation to M&E sector

  • Consumers can pay for only the channels they wish to watch at MRP instead of the pre-determined bouquets offered by broadcasters earlier
  • The NTO was expected to make channels cheaper but on groundthe opposite happened and the price of like-to-like options went up

Lata Jha
Updated9 Jul 2020
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai)  (Photo: Mint)
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) (Photo: Mint)(Mint)

A day after broadcast industry players sought less control and more ease of doing business from the government, senior officials argued there is no regulatory burden on the sector in the country. Speaking on the third day of Ficci Frames, an annual media and entertainment industry event held online this year, RS Sharma, chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said the new tariff order (NTO) introduced in 2017 may have drawn flak but was intended to empower consumers and ensure interest of all stakeholders in the industry.

“The basic approach of Trai has always been light touch,” Sharma said reiterating the point made by MIB secretary Amit Khare earlier at the event. “As long as there is fair play in the market, there is no need for us to intervene but the consumer needs to know costs and have full freedom of choice.”

According to NTO, consumers could choose and pay for only the channels they wished to watch at maximum retail prices (MRPs) instead of the pre-determined bouquets offered by broadcasters earlier. The tariff order was expected to make channels cheaper but on ground, the opposite happened and the price of like-to-like options went up. Sharma said the amendments to NTO introduced earlier this year and the Trai channel selector app launched a couple of weeks ago were intended to make things more transparent for consumers.

“The regulator should ensure technological development is not throttled. Some people may feel their interests have been affected but that’s not true for all,” Sharma said in reference to NTO.

Echoing his sentiments on minimal regulation, Atul Kumar Tiwari, additional secretary to the I&B ministry said the government’s light touch regulatory approach will extend to video streaming platforms as well.

“We are aware of the problems there and there will certainly be some amount of regulation of streaming content. We have had discussions with OTT providers and asked them to come up with a self-regulatory mechanism,” Tiwari said, adding that the ball is now in the VoD services’ court.

He added that the government was working on provisions for the M&E industry, including SOPs for shooting post covid, a film facilitation unit and issues related to piracy, copyright, uplinking of TV channels, relief to FM radio and infrastructure status to the broadcast sector.

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