TRAI’s Vaghela eyes reduced compliance burden for broadcasters

The TRAI chief said that relaxing regulations for broadcasters would be a better way forward than regulating OTT players

May 03, 2023 01:42 pm | Updated 08:33 pm IST - MUMBAI

P. D. Vaghela. File

P. D. Vaghela. File

There should ideally be “complete forbearance” in regulating broadcast tariffs, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairperson P. D. Vaghela said on May 3. However, Dr. Vaghela added, there were “diverging interests” among different players in the industry, with broadcasters and satellite TV operators asking for forbearance, and local cable operators (LCOs) and multi-system operators (MSOs) demanding regulations on subscription prices they are charged by channels. 

“Whether we like it or not, LCOs have a problem, and they have to be protected,” Dr. Vaghela said, referring to cable operators losing subscribers. “This is a transition phase, where we have to take care of them.” Dr. Vaghela was speaking at the FICCI Frames 2023 media and entertainment industry event in Mumbai, with Tata Play CEO Harit Nagpal. Tata Play last month complained in a letter to TRAI about falling broadband prices with free live-streamed channels affecting the satellite TV and cable business.

Relax regulations

“Should regulation and levies be dependent on technology used instead of product being delivered,” Mr. Nagpal asked, alluding to a growing concern among the television distribution industry that cheap broadband and free live-streamed channels at home are undercutting them without facing the same regulatory scrutiny.

“We should be clear: should we go for regulation for the new players,” Dr. Vaghela asked. “I would scoff at the idea. I would not like to see that new players are regulated. Present players can be given some sort of relief,” he suggested. Dr. Vaghela said that relaxations for broadcasters was essential, and that a consultation would soon come out on the subject of concerns faced by LCOs and MSOs.

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