Further regulations will hit OTT services: Major broadcasters tell TRAI

OTTs should not be seen as a substitute for TSPs: Star India, SPN, Times Network say in feedback given to TRAI 

by exchange4media Staff
Published - Jan 17, 2019 5:13 PM Updated: Jan 17, 2019 5:13 PM
TRAI

The feedback comments on the TRAI consultation paper have revealed that major broadcasters of the country like Star India, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) and Times Network are not in favour of further regulations on over-the-top (OTT) communication services. 

They have said OTTs should not be seen as a substitute for Telecom Service Providers (TSPs). The broadcasters have said that although some OTT services may seem similar to TSPs they are different in many ways like in matters of technology and revenue model. 

Star India has said that OTTs have been licensed under Section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and so the regulator does not have the authority to regulate them. 

The broadcaster said since provisions under Information Technology Act, 2000, are already in place there was no need for further regulation. 

The Justice B N Srikrishna committee has been also working towards reinforcing provisions under Draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018. 

Sony Pictures Networks India has said any more regulations could hit the growth of internet applications and platforms.
“We believe no regulatory intervention is required since it could stifle innovation and straitjacket technological innovation and the development of this sunrise sector. A policy of forbearance on regulation (as has been the case so far) should be continued in order to avoid hampering growth in the sector,” SPN said in the submission. 

The broadcaster said telcos must be allowed to avail fair market pricing. 

Times Network also highlighted the differences between OTTs and TSPs and that the services cannot be classed as “similar services” from a licensing perspective. 

“Further, TSPs as ISPs are access providers who control the underlying broadband access infrastructure, with few market players due to high barriers to market entry. By contrast, OTTs do not control the underlying broadband access point, have significantly lower barriers to market entry and are faced with many competing services, unlike TSPs. Consumers can add or stop using OTTs at will whereas switching between TSPs involves incurring the cost for the consumer and generally involves a longer relationship,” the broadcaster added in the submission. 

ZEEL too submitted its response to TRAI on behalf of its digital arm ZEE5. It has said that there is no issue of a non-level playing field between OTT service providers and TSPs, providing similar services as both OTT providers and TSPs complement each other. 

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