TRAI seeks suggestions on improving ease of doing business in broadcasting

The regulator has floated a consultation paper asking about the various issues and difficulties being faced by the stakeholders in commencement and operation of their businesses

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Published: Dec 9, 2021 8:41 AM  | 5 min read

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has suo moto floated a consultation paper on 'Ease of Doing Business in Telecom and Broadcasting Sector' to identify various concerns in the existing processes and suggest measures for the reforms required in the regulatory policies, practices, and procedures in the sectors for creating a conducive business environment in India.

The regulator said that the telecom and broadcasting sectors have immense potential to move on the higher trajectory of growth, if business environment could be made more attractive by simplifying the existing provisions of policy frameworks in various ministries and departments, including Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, involved in issuing permission, registrations, and licences to the players of the sector.

This consultation paper seeks comments of the stakeholders on the various issues and difficulties being faced by them in commencement and operation of their businesses in the telecom and broadcasting sectors. Comments are invited to propose measures for making the existing processes simple & business-friendly and creating an ecosystem for attracting more and more investment in the sectors. It also emphasizes the single-window concept for submitting applications and getting approvals from different agencies without running to each agency separately for its approval.

The consultation paper seeks comments on simplifying the applications that require details for the conduct of business and well-documented timelines with query response systems, having seamless integration with other ministries. The stakeholders have been requested to provide their valuable comments on adoption of new technologies for all the issues raised in this consultation paper.

The regulator has sought written comments on the consultation paper by 5th January 2022. Counter comments, if any, may be submitted by 19th January 2022.

The TRAI has asked stakeholders to provide comments whether the present system of licences/permissions/registrations or any other permissions granted by MIB requires improvement in any respect from the point of view of Ease of Doing Business (EoDB).

If yes, the regulator has asked as to what steps are required to be taken in terms of: a. Simple, online and well-defined processes; b. Simple application format with a need to review archaic fields, information, and online submission of documents if any; c. Precise and well-documented timelines along with the possibility of deemed approval; d. Well-defined and time-bound query system in place; e. Seamless integration and approvals across various ministries/ departments with the end-to-end online system; and f. Procedure, timelines and online system of notice/appeal for rejection/cancellation of licence/permission/registration.

Comments have also been sought if there are any other issues in the present system of licences/ permissions/registrations granted by MIB/DoT/WPC/NOCC/TEC/ DOS/MeitY/MoP that can be identified as relevant from the perspective of ease of doing business in the telecom and broadcasting sector.

MIB is the nodal ministry responsible for the issuance of all broadcasting and cable services related licences/permissions/registrations to TV and FM broadcasters and various distribution platform operators. MIB broadly grants licences/registrations/permissions for the following broadcasting services: 1. Uplinking and downlinking of satellite TV channels; 2. Uplinking Hub/Teleport operators; 3. Use of SNG/DSNG equipment; 4. DTH operators; 5. HITS operators 6. MSOs; 7. IPTV providers; 8. Private FM broadcasters (including auction); 9. Community Radio Stations; and 10. TRP Agencies.

The TRAI has also asked as to what measures are required to be taken to simplify the various submissions/filings made by teleport operators, DTH operators, MSOs, and other stakeholders at MIB. DPOs are required to provide a compliance report every month in respect of carrying the mandatory channels of government on their platform along with their Logical Channel Numbers (LCNs) through email. Consumer complaints uploaded by MIB on are to be addressed by the DPOs.

MSOs have been provided a login on the Digital India MIB portal, wherein they have to feed their Set-Top Box (STB) seeding data every week. The DTH operators also have to submit the following documents both via email and physical copy. MIB is in the process of developing an online portal enabling us to make submissions online.

Further, all the teleport operators having permissions for uplinking and downlinking of TV channels are required to furnish the detailed list of TV channels being uplinked from their teleport by the 15th of every month in the format prescribed by MIB. Similarly, a report maintaining a record of the location and the events which have been covered and uplinked by SNG/DSNG terminals and downlinked to their main satellite earth station is required to be submitted by the commercial DSNG operators before MHA/MIB.

Broadcasters and distribution platform operators (DPOs) submit data as per the reporting requirements of Tariff Order, 2017, and Interconnection Regulations, 2017, and Register of Interconnection Agreements and all such other matters Regulations, 2019, generally in both hard copy and soft copy. The DPOs of TV services comprising DTH operators, MSOs, and HITS operators electronically submit PMRs monthly and quarterly in the respective formats as prescribed by the Authority.

TRAI has recently developed a Broadcasting & Cable Services Integrated Portal (BIPS), which went live on 2nd January 2020 for filing of the interconnection agreements. The portal is also likely to incorporate tariff and PMR filings in a phased manner. Weekly data of the duration of advertisements from broadcasters are also being filed in TRAI electronically. FM radio broadcasters submit advertisement revenue data quarterly in hard copy as well as the soft copy format.

Auditors are impanelled by TRAI to carry out an audit of Digital Addressable Systems (DAS). The process involves submission of the application by the applicant in hard copy along with supporting documents and a demand draft to TRAI. After scrutinizing the application and being eligible, the applicant is asked to submit the Bank Guarantee along with acceptance of terms and conditions of empanelment. The whole process is being done in offline mode. It is suggested that a mechanism should be devised so that the same may also be done in the online mode.

Further, quarterly compliance reports from DPOs on impanelled auditors for the audit done in each quarter are submitted by email may also be called in online mode by integration of the same in the BIPS portal.


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