The long-awaited draft Convergence Bill, which aims to create a single licensing authority for telecom, broadcasting and internet-related operations, will be piloted by the communications ministry during the Parliament session that begins later this month, Parliamentary affairs and information technology minister Pramod Mahajan said.
This appears to be the first step towards resolving a longstanding dispute over which ministry would have the nodal charge for formalizing India’s media-related convergence laws. The ministries involved here include those of information and broadcasting, communications and information technology.
The federal government would eventually endeavor to put up all draft legislation’s on the Internet to invite comments from the public. “The IT Act is the first draft to be put up on the Net, and subsequently, the draft Convergence Bill was thrown open for public opinion,” he stated further.
The draft Convergence Bill to create a communications commission to handle the regulatory and licensing functions in areas of telecom, broadcasting and Internet was proposed by a committee headed by eminent lawyer Fali.S. Nariman last May.
The bill proposes to set up a Communications Commission of India, a super-regulator governing the information, communications, and entertainment sectors as proposed by the draft of the Communications Bill, 2000, and will also incorporate most of the suggestions on content and carriage regulations as proposed in the draft Information, Communications and Entertainment Bill, 2000.
If passed into law, the bill will replace the federal government’s existing Broadcast Bill, the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885, the Cable TV Network (Registration) Act of 1995 and the Telecom Regulatory Act of India of 1997.
Once created, the CCI will be vested with the powers to grant licenses, manage spectrum, resolve disputes, as well as determine the conditions for fair, access to network facility and service.