Time is running out for broadcasters to send their comments on media ownership. It may be recalled that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had released a consultation paper on “Issues relating to Media Ownership” two months back, inviting written comments from stakeholders. Since then, the regulator has extended the deadline for comments three times on the request of stakeholders.
TRAI has finally put its foot down on further extending the deadline and in its latest application, it has notified, “It is reiterated that this would be the last opportunity for the stakeholders to offer their comments/ counter-comments and no further extension of time shall be given.”
TRAI had extended the last date for receipt of written comments on media ownership till April 22, 2013, and for counter-comments till April 29. This had been done on the request of the stakeholders.
It may be recalled that on February 15, TRAI had released a consultation paper on issues related to media ownership and had sought comments from stakeholders on the subject. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) had earlier sought comments from the regulators on the issue.
The previous deadline for receiving comments from stakeholders was April 8, while for counter-comments, the deadline was April 15.
While issuing the consultation paper last month, TRAI had stated that 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 had earlier said, “Major players of the 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, that is, cable TV, DTH, HITS, IPTV, etc., while distribution segment companies are entering into television broadcasting, leading to vertical integration in the broadcasting sector,” TRAI added.
The key issues mentioned in the consultation paper include disqualification of certain entities from entry into the media sector and different methodologies to be used to measure ownership of an entity over a media outlet.