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Broadcasting norms could be overhauled
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New Delhi: Prior experience in broadcasting sector of both the applicant company and its promoters may be included in the revised licensing norms of the television sector. Also, the government may increase the net worth criteria and licence fees for broadcasters as an entry barrier to keep non-serious players away from the broadcast business.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has raised these issues in its latest consultation paper at the behest of the information & broadcasting (I&B) ministry, which is currently looking to review its TV licensing policy in wake of spectrum crunch.

Currently, there are 529 TV channels permitted to operate by the I&B ministry, almost double the number of what it was two years ago. As a result, the I&B ministry in January decided to suspend the process of receiving new applications for television licences till the matter was studied by Trai.

Among other issues, Trai has sought comments from the stakeholders on whether the government should move from the one-time entry fees for a 10-year TV licence to an annual fee model. This could ensure full compliance by the licence holders on accounts of bandwidth usage, continued operations and other criteria.

In its letter to Trai in October last year, the I&B ministry had expressed concern on the fly-by-night broadcasters who had suspended operations despite holding valid TV licences. In order to tackle this issue, Trai has asked its stakeholders: “Whether permission of a channel should be revoked in case the channel is closed down for certain fixed period...and should this period be same or different if the non operation is continuous or intermittent?”

In order to make India a teleport hub — the business of setting up technical infrastructure to undertake uplink and downlink of TV channels — Trai wants to know what facilities should be provided to the companies and whether this will in any way adversely affect the transponder availability for uplinking of domestic TV channels.

Currently, countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia among others have dedicated land to undertake the teleport operations of several foreign broadcasters. The government is keen to provide similar facilities in the country provided there are enough takers for it. In India, there are around 60 teleport operators, mostly broadcasters themselves.

Source: The Financial Express

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