In a bid to address the procedural bottlenecks in the broadcast sector, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is planning to issue recommendations on ease of doing business by the end of this month, said RS Sharma, chairman at TRAI.
“We are primarily looking at the process and procedural issues in the broadcast sector. All government procedures need to have a rationale and a clearly defined objective. The authority has reviewed the issues internally and will release the recommendations this month,” said Sharma.
During the consultation process, most television broadcasters had voiced for single-window clearance. At present, broadcasters require multiple clearances at different levels within the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry as well as between several ministries within the government while seeking uplinking and downlinking licences. A single-window clearance process will reduce the costs and time required to procure licences.
Broadcasters had also voted for automation and digitization of licensing processes and granting of permissions within a stipulated period of time. “The recommendations will help create a business-friendly environment and will be very positive and constructive for all stakeholders in the broadcast sector,” Sharma added.
At present, there are five private direct-to-home operators, two head-end in the sky (HITS) operators, 900 multi-system operators (MSOs), a few Internet protocol television (IPTV) operators and 60,000 cable operators in the country. State-owned broadcaster Doordarshan also operates a free-to-air DTH platform, DD Free Dish.
The regulator had issued a consultation paper on the subject earlier in July 2017 to remove the entry barriers in the sector by “laying down well-defined and transparent procedures, facilitate innovation and technology adoption in the sector and introduce investor friendly policies”.
Meanwhile, TRAI is also working on releasing the recommendations, addressing issues pertaining to digital radio broadcasting, in an effort to enable private FM broadcasters across the country to move towards it.
Currently, radio signals are largely transmitted in analogue mode and are available in frequency modulation (FM) and amplitude modulation (AM)—short wave and medium wave. While state-owned broadcaster All India Radio has initiated digitization of its radio network (medium wave and short wave) in three phases, there is no clarity in the current policy guidelines regarding provisioning of digital radio service in FM band for private broadcasters.
“We have taken note of issues regarding digital radio broadcasting and will soon be coming out with recommendations on the same,” said Sharma. – Live Mint