Regulation of the media and entertainment industry became a big point of discussion when policy makers joined industry stalwarts during Confederation of Indian Industry’s Big Picture Summit. Representing the government, M Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting, stated that his ministry will play a facilitator role in devising the appropriate regulatory framework.
“There is a wrong feeling that these regulators are all strangulators. You need regulation,” he said. The minister opined that though India is a democracy, regulation is required to avoid clashes between different stakeholders. “In every system, there has to be some regulation. Regulation for the betterment of the system, not harassment,” he added.
Maintaining that the government wasn’t for intrusive regulation, Naidu urged the industry members to maintain family values in their work and then look towards self regulation. Elaborating on the new regulatory framework devised by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, TRAI Chairman RS Sharma sought to draw a balance between the interests of both the industry and consumers.
“I think transparency, non discrimination, equity, quality of service and customer service are some of the principles on which we have been basing our regulatory proposals,” Sharma said referring to the draft proposals that are available on TRAI’s website and open to suggestions from stakeholders.
Arguing the need to protect consumers from irrational tariff prices, he batted for providing the consumers with sufficient choice in the television broadcast services. “Consumers must have a choice as to what they would watch. You cannot just say that if you take this channel then you take these 10 together,” he said.
According to Sharma, the proposals are also aimed at simplifying business structures, reducing disputes among stakeholders across value chain, encouraging investment in television broadcasting sector and ensuring production of good quality content across genres. He agreed that the pricing should be left to the sellers of the product but not without a notional price ceiling.
Speaking earlier, Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd. & Chairman, CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment, complimented the government on the progress that has been made in relation to the regulatory work. “I want to compliment the government on the thoroughness and detail with which the work has been done,” he said.
Harit Nagpal, CEO Tata Sky, cautioned against overburdening the industry with a set of rules. “In the absence of fundamentals, disruption can actually lead to destruction. That’s my fear,” he said. Going further, Sharma felt that there was a need to provide shape to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment. “Our Hon’ble Prime Minister has been saying that we need to make it easy to do business. We have to create a single window so that businesses don’t just go from window to window trying to get permissions,” he added.