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Broadcasters, telcos tell TRAI to emulate British regulator Ofcom

Telcos and broadcasters have urged the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to implement impact assessment for new regulations introduced by the authority. Speaking at a panel on the best practices globally to regulate the broadcasting and telecommunications sector, Rahul Vatts Chief Regulatory Officer, Bharti Airtel, said TRAI should emulate the British communications regulator Ofcom to conduct impact evaluation studies for new regulations that TRAI wants to introduce. Vatts indicated that such studies are important to truly ascertain the impact of these regulations on companies, consumers, as well as the cost of implementing these regulations.

Mihir Rale, Chief Regulation Counsel at Star & Disney India, echoed Vatts’ sentiments, saying the need for impact assessment is “absolutely critical”. British, telecommunications, broadcasting and postal services regulator Ofcom made regulatory impact assessment a statutory regulation in 2003 to reduce the needless burden of regulations on industry stakeholders. It is essentially a prospective analysis of how a regulation is going to play out when it is implemented; in case of averse consequences, the regulator can take necessary steps to change the regulation before it is enacted.

Over the last few years, Indian telecom and broadcasting regulations have been taken to the courts many times, as stakeholders flag the detrimental impact of such regulations. TRAI’s implementation of the NTO 2.0 tariff order was delayed drastically, as broadcasters and cable operators alike contested the rule in courts after the enforcement date of the rule.

Anil Kumar Bhardwaj, Advisor (Broadcasting and Cable services), TRAI, was also a part of the panel. He said the authority does internal impact evaluation studies, however, it cannot make them public since the results could be misused. Bharwaj noted that India still has a dearth of granular data to make the studies very accurate. The Hindu Business Line

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