The latest recommendations on cross-media ownership by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) have raised some serious questions over the working of the media industry.
The regulator was asked by the Ministry for Information and Broadcasting (MIB) in May 2012 to relook into the matter of vertical integration in the broadcasting sector and cross-media holding in TV, radio, and print sectors. MIB had asked TRAI to suggest measures that can address the issue of vertical integration in order to ensure fair growth in the broadcasting sector.
In this connection TRAI had issued a consultation paper on issues related to Media Ownership in February 2013. Based on the comments received from the stakeholders during the time period, TRAI has released its final recommendations highlighting different issues.
The most important issue that the regulator has stressed upon is the banning of private treaties. In its recommendations TRAI has said, “Given the inherent conflict of interest arising from practices such as ‘Private Treaties’, such practices be immediately proscribed through orders of the PCI or through statutory rules and regulations.”
TRAI further said, “This would cover all type of treaties such as advertising in exchange for the equity of the company advertised, advertising in exchange of favourable coverage/ publicity and exclusive advertising rights in exchange for favourable coverage.”