Prakash Javadekar assures broadcasters of regulatory stability

Information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar has told India’s top broadcasters that the government does not expect any disruption in the sector as that will add to volatility.

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Addressing a meeting of office-bearers of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) on Friday, Javadekar said he would discuss changes to the tariff order with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and its recommendations to rating agency BARC India.

The IBF had informed the government that implementation of the new tariff order (NTO 2.0) would be detrimental to the business and lead to limiting of pricing power, according to a report in The ET.

Amendments to the new tariff order (NTO 2.0) by Trai were notified on January 1 and were scheduled to be effective from April 1.

Javadekar assured all support to the sector and said he knew about the hardships the sector was going through due to coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown.

IBF president NP Singh, also head of Sony Pictures Networks India; Uday Shankar, president, Asia-Pacific, Walt Disney Co and chairman of Star and Disney India; Punit Goenka, MD, Zee Entertainment Enterprises; Rajat Sharma, president, News Broadcasters’ Association, and chairman, India TV; and Aroon Purie, chairman, India Today Group attended the meeting.

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The meeting also saw discussions on issues such as permission to shoot for films and television content and dues from the Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC) to the industry, the ET report said.

“While the NTO 2.0 matter is sub judice, the minister said that the government is thinking very seriously about regulatory stability. He said his ministry will have a discussion with Trai on both – NTO 2.0 and BARC matters,” said one person with knowledge of the matter.

While suggestions from BARC will not be implemented until the ministry accepts them, Trai has full jurisdiction over tariff-related matters.

Sneha Jaisingh, partner at law firm Bharucha & Partners, said the ministry has powers to direct Trai to reconsider its decisions. But “one is unaware whether such a decision has indeed been made and if so, how it is to be implemented,” she said. “Given the present crisis, a lot of ameliorating measures are being undertaken as we all know.”

Javadekar said the industry should initiate a settlement of concerns over ratings internally.

Javadekar also said he would talk to Maharashtra government on clearance to shoot for shows. Shooting for all programmes has been stopped since March 19 and broadcasters have been telecasting repeat content on their channels.

―Business Today

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