TRAI should have a member from the broadcast industry: I&B Sec Apurva Chandra

The MIB Secretary was speaking about the evolution and potential of broadcasting in India. He shared that the M&E industry in India will reach approx $70 mn by 2030

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Nov 24, 2021 1:12 PM  | 5 min read
Apurva Chandra

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) Secretary Apurva Chandra has said that the ministry is in favour of having a broadcasting member on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

"MIB is interested that TRAI should have a member from broadcasting. In fact, we have got a request that a part-time member should be nominated by the broadcasting sector in the TRAI. We are open to any suggestions from the industry so that we can consider a suitable person for nominating in the TRAI. As of now, TRAI has been designated as the regulator of the broadcasting sector since 2004," he said while speaking at a media event today.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Secretary was speaking at an international conference about the evolution and potential of broadcasting in India.

The MIB is also relaunching the Broadcast Seva portal which will make the process of taking permissions or approval a lot more convenient. The new portal will be launched in the next three months. The ministry is also amending uplinking and downlinking guidelines which will change the rules per se and make the rules simpler. The new guidelines are expected to come in the next 3-4 months, Chandra said.

Speaking on whether MIB can act as a bridge between industry stakeholders and other regulators to help grow the television industry, Chandra said that the broadcasting industry has had some apprehension about the tariff order, which was given by TRAI.

“The NTO 1.0 that was implemented about a couple of years back and the matter is sub judice. There have been decisions given by the certain high courts. Meanwhile, the regulator has come out with a second level which is popularly called- NTO 2.0 and there also the broadcasters have some apprehensions. The decision of TRAI was challenged in the court. We are also in touch with broadcasters and carrying their concerns to the regulator.”

The MIB has also given in-principle approval to the decision of Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) to set up an industry body to tackle piracy. "CII will formulate an industry body which will take action against Copyright violations whether it is films or music or any other form of entertainment. We have agreed to support this initiative and help them in seeking relief with the available legal remedies," Chandra informed.

On the need for a single M&E policy, he said that the M&E industry is not one cohesive whole. "There are various ways in which M&E is consumed by the public whether it is films, TV, music, print, or OTT. Then there are DTH and cable distributors. There are many views and opinions and whether all of them can come under one common policy is still to be seen. It will require a much larger and deeper debate. When we come out with a common M&E policy there will be some winners, some losers, and we have to take into account the concerns of every one," he stated.

The secretary said that the media and entertainment sector in India is expected to grow at 9-10% every year, and by the year 2030, it's expected to reach at least $70 million. Chandra shared that the media and entertainment sector in India is about $25 billion.

Speaking about the OTT growth in India, Chandra mentioned that in the past four and half years during the lockdown the content in OTT has grown substantially. “With the international players being in India, the content is getting translated into several languages and released at the same time internationally and being available all over the world. And as I understand from the likes of  Netflix and Amazon that there are a lot of viewers abroad for Indian content. The content is consumed in Brazil, Mexico, Spain, US, and so many other countries.”

Further, talking about MIB role in encouraging growth across the streaming platforms, Chandra shared that MIB came up with detailed media content regulations in January 2021. “We kept a light touch regulation on the OTT content. There has been a demand for the content to be censored and go through the system of the Central Board of Film Certification. But we have kept it at the three-tier level of self-certification," said Chandra.

“The first level is that the content creator himself/herself certify if there is any complaint. The second level is a self-regulatory mechanism which is again created by the content providers. The third level is to form a committee in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which can issue some advisory but over the past 18 months, we have hardly received received any complaints, and we have not been asked to exercise our authority or advisory role in any way.”

In the first level, 90-95% of the complaints get resolved at the content platform's level. In the second level, everything gets resolved at the level of content creators. Hardly anything comes to the MIB.

India has seen a profusion of channels, said Chandra. He added that 30 years back Doordarshan was the only offering India had, but today across languages there are more than 800 channels operating in India since the economy opened up in 1992. There has been a profusion of entertainment, news, and sports channels.

The animation, visual effects, gaming, and comics (AVGC) industry will be a big focus area for the MIB in 2022. "One of the big focus areas will be the AVGC sector because that we feel is a growth area, and we can be a factory for AVGC content because we have a lot of creative people. A lot of things are happening in AVGC especially in Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad."

Chandra made these comments while speaking at Media Partners Asia's (MPA) APOS India Summit on Tuesday.

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