The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a consultation paper on issues related to media cross ownership and is seeking comments from stakeholders on the subject. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry had earlier sought comments from the regulators on the issue.
TRAI expressed media plays an important role in the democratic process of a country. So, to ensure media pluralism and to counter the ills of monopolies, it is felt that reasonable restrictions may need to be put in place on ownership in the media sector.
TRAI said, “Major players of print, television and radio sectors are seeking expansion of their business interests in various segments of the print and broadcasting sectors leading to horizontal integration of media entities.”
“Also, more and more broadcasting companies owning television channels are venturing into distribution segments i.e. cable TV, DTH, HITS, IPTV, etc. while distribution segment companies are entering into television broadcasting, leading to vertical integration in the broadcasting sector,” added TRAI.
The key issue discussed in the consultation disqualification of certain entities from entry into the media sector and different methodology will be used to measure ownership of an entity over a media outlet.
It has also been discussed that deliberating ways to devise ownership rules for vertical integration between broadcasting and distribution entities and also to prescribe norms for mandatory disclosures by media entities.
The deadline for comments from stakeholders is March 8 and counter comments by March 15.