Regulatory issues arising out of convergence of technologies need to be addressed, Information and Broadcasting Ministry Secretary Amit Khare said on October 9, seeking suggestions on the issue of regulation of over-the-top platforms and digital media.
Khare, while speaking at the inauguration of a three-day training programme on ‘Emerging Trends in Broadcasting’, said there is a separate regulator for press, film certification and broadcast, but all these technologies are now converging on a single device.
“So these are the challenges — fast paced changes in technology, convergence of technologies, and the regulatory issues arising out of these challenges,” he said at the event organised jointly by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
He also sought suggestions on issues of regulation of over-the-top platforms (OTT) and digital media.
“In this ministry of I&B, we place a lot of importance on these (technological) changes and we would welcome all the ideas particularly regarding OTT and the growth of digital media and how it needs to be regulated,” Khare said, urging the participants to come up with ideas.
“We are also meeting the film industry and content creators in Mumbai tomorrow at another seminar to discuss about OTT,” he said.
His remarks come days after I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar suggested there should be some kind of regulation on over-the-top platforms (OTT), as there is for the print and electronic media as well as films.
OTT platforms include news portals and also ‘streamers’ such as Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which are accessible over the internet or ride on an operator’s network.
“I have sought suggestions on how to deal with this because there are regular feature films coming on OTT — good, bad and ugly. So how to deal with this, who should monitor, who should regulate. There is no certification body for OTT platforms and likewise news portals also,” Javadekar had said in an interaction with PTI journalists at the news agency’s headquarters last week.
Khare said the challenges of fast-paced technological changes and technology convergence have also added huge opportunities.
“We are thinking of providing internet to about 20 million households in another 2-3 years because the same cables which are providing TV content, with slight modifications and if we can have a two-way switch, can be used to provide internet. This opens huge opportunity for employment and self employment,” he said.
Khare said the broadcast industry has grown to the extent that out of the 298 households in India, 197 million households have access to television broadcast.
Telecom regulator TRAI chief R S Sharma said regulatory systems are generally reactive.
“Any regulatory mechanism must not stifle the growth, it must not stifle innovation. It must facilitate growth and innovation. At the same time, it must do it in an orderly manner. There comes the philosophy of minimal regulation,” he said.
Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) Chairman Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, who inaugurated the training session, said from the judicial point of view the issues that need to be looked at in the matter of regulation are freedom of speech and expression as well as the right to privacy.
The training programme is being attended by delegates from 17 countries, mainly from the Asia-Pacific region.
There will be a large number of domestic participants at this programme, representing various stakeholders such as government departments, broadcasters, distributors of DTH and cable industry, various OTT players, academia etc.―Money Control