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Broadcasting bill unlikely to be tabled in the inaugural parliament session

The contentious Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill is unlikely to be tabled in the inaugural session of the new parliament that will take place at the end of this month. Top sources told businessline that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is keen on ironing out several issues like the regulation of streaming firms and pre-certification of content that appear to be holdups for the industry and civil society.

According to sources, the consultation process for the bill continues to be ongoing, wherein the industry submitted its third round of comments 14th of June on the draft bill. Right before the election results were announced, the ministry held a meeting with the industry stakeholders – where several sticky issues were flagged to be holdups that are preventing MIB from drafting the final version of the bill.

These issues include the MIB’s bid to club steaming companies or OTT firms with broadcasting, and pre-certification of content, as well as the requirement that every broadcaster must set up its internal content evaluation committee (CEC), which must certify all broadcast content. Price regulation through the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is another major holdup for the industry.

In November last year, the MIB released its first draft of the broadcasting bill for the public, inviting their comments. Since then, the consultation process has gone behind doors, and iterative drafts as well as industry and civil society comments have not been released to the public. Several RTI applications have also been filed, requesting the ministry to share the responses or the copy of responses to the bill.

At this point several industry bodies including the IBDF and IAMAI have given their consent to share the responses but MIB has not yet disclosed the comments.

Even is Ashwini Vaishnaw takes charge of the ministry, it is unlikely that the consultation process is going to be fast-tracked, to be brought to the new parliament session. A source told businessline, “Ministry needs to resolve these contentions before it takes action. After which it must go for interministerial consultation as well to the law ministry for approval.” The Hindu Businessline

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