The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released recommendations on “issues related to entry of certain entities into the business of broadcasting and/ or distribution of TV channels”.
TRAI had received a reference dated November 30, 2012 from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) seeking its recommendations on the issue of whether Central Government Ministries, Central/ State Government Departments, Central/ State Government owned companies, Central/ State Government undertakings, joint venture of the Central/ State Governments and the private sector and Central/ State Government funded entities may be allowed to enter the business of broadcasting and/ or distribution of TV channels.
TRAI has responded by saying that such entities should not be allowed to enter the business of broadcasting or distribution of TV channels. The regulatory authority suggested that the arm’s length relationship between Prasar Bharati and the Government be reinforced. TRAI also recommended that such measures should ensure functional independence and autonomy of Prasar Bharati.
The recommendations also mention that pending enactment of any new legislation on broadcasting, the disqualifications recommended for political bodies to enter into broadcasting and/ or distribution activities should be implemented through executive decision by incorporating the disqualifications into Rules, Regulations and Guidelines as necessary.
And in case the Central Government has already accorded permission to any State Government/ State Government owned companies/ State Government undertakings/ joint venture of the State Government and the private sector/ State Government funded entities to enter into the cable distribution platform, then the Central Government should provide an appropriate exit route.
As is known, in December 2007, the MIB had sought recommendations of TRAI on the issue whether entities such as State Governments and political bodies should be permitted to enter broadcasting and distribution activities. Following an exhaustive consultation process, the Authority forwarded its recommendations on the issues raised by MIB on November 12, 2008. In the consultation process, the Authority had comprehensively examined the issue in the broader context of Central and State Governments as well as their respective organs. These recommendations are in continuation of the earlier recommendations.
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