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Issues of convergence, cross media ownership need to be fixed: TRAI Chairman

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Issues of convergence, cross media ownership need to be fixed: TRAI Chairman

With new technologies, new content delivery modes and new business models, the Indian media and entertainment sector has never been so dynamic and evolving. However, at the same time, convergence is shaping disruptions in consumer propositions under the unified licensing regime and debates continue on issues such as copyrights and competition, alternate usage, and coordination of scarce spectrum.

Sharing his point of view on upcoming technologies, Rahul Khullar, Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said, “While new technologies are changing the way content is delivered and received in the country, there is still a long road for the sort of convergence to finally roll out in the country that is available in countries such as the US, Japan and Korea.”

Khullar added, "The other challenge is the constraint in spectrum that hampers the industry as private players are not allowed to access the terrestrial spectrum.” Besides the severe shortage, the industry has to deal with the stranglehold of Government policies, which bars players from going out and getting spectrum on their own. Khullar stressed that the overall constraint will pose challenges regarding delivery bandwidth and broadband.

With a unified licensing regime and the process of digitisation currently underway in the country, much of the dividend is supposed to come in the form of the ability of digital networks to carry signals and capacity. “The truth of the matter is that our cable networks are nowhere in that league at this point of time,” Khullar noted.

Fixing the problems
While recounting the ways to fix these bottlenecks, the TRAI Chairman said that firstly there needs to be proper TRP recommendations as well as a self-regulation model in place. “Secondly, under-declaration of the number of subscribers is getting fixed with the advent of digitisation; this is already being taken care of in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata; we will then look at the cities in the second phase of the digitisation process by October,” he added.

Regarding the issue of domination or monopoly in the cable sector, Khullar said that it is confined to a handful of states, and not prevalent pan-India and it is being looked into.

Speaking on cross media ownership, he said “It is a difficult area that needs to be tackled. We cannot carry on the way we have in the past, whether it is the print or electronic media,” Khullar maintained. He stressed that the industry and the regulatory authority should interact more frequently to understand each other’s views on this and arrive at a solution.


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