The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has announced extension of the last date for receipt of comments on its Consultation Paper on media ownership to November 10. The deadline, originally set for October 24, has been extended following requests from some stakeholders and keeping in view the importance of the issue and the need for wider participation of stakeholders in the consultation process.
In the Paper issued on September 23, TRAI had stressed on the need to lay down a holistic and clear cut approach towards cross-media and ownership restrictions for the future growth of these sectors. It had at the same time noted that there was no general policy on ownership and cross-media restrictions in the country as far as restrictions between print and electronic media were concerned.
The Consultation Paper has been released at the instance of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, which had on May 22 asked TRAI to give its recommendations on the need for cross-media and ownership restrictions for radio, broadcasting and print media. The regulator also reiterated its recommendations given to the Government at different points in time with regard to different media. TRAI has been recommending similar restrictions in its various recommendations on Private Terrestrial TV, Headend-In-The-Sky (HITS) and Mobile TV.
At present, there are restrictions on ownership of companies seeking licenses/ permissions or registrations under various Policy Guidelines issued from time to time for electronic media. As such, restrictions are in place only with respect to DTH services and private FM radio.
The objective of the Consultation Paper is to provide for competition, diversity and plurality of players, news and views. The issues under consideration are cross-media ownership across different segments of media such as print/ television/ radio (horizontal integration); cross holding restrictions to prevent consolidation, including ‘vertical integration’ within a media segment such as television or radio; market share in the city/ state/ country within each media segment; and cross control/ ownership across telecom and media segments.