September 21, 2014 1:40:45 am
As the Modi government tries to work on a new Convergence Bill to bring about greater synergy between mobile, internet and the television sector, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman Rahul Khullar has warned that unless structural changes are not brought about, the effort would fail, as it did more than 10 years back.
Speaking at a Convergence Summit organised by the Confederation of India Industry on Saturday, Khullar said the first step should be to end the turf war between the department of telecommunications, under which fall the mobile and internet, and information and broadcasting ministry that oversees TV .
Khullar’s prescription is to bring about a change in the rules of allocation of business by bringing all carriage related functions under the DoT, while leaving I&B to oversee only content.
“Let me put a proposition of which I have been an ardent advocate, but I am in the minority. Let carriage be the exclusive preserve of one ministry and content that of the other. DoT should exclusively focus its attention on disputes and matters arising from carriage issues, while content issues should be looked after by the I&B ministry,” he said.
Pointing towards the anomaly in the current structure, Khullar said if a company wants a broadcasting licence, it goes to a window in the I&B ministry, where the official goes to another window in the DoT to seek approvals. Such a situation arises because while the I&B provides the broadcasting licences, the airwaves are granted by the DoT.
By bringing all carriage-related functions under one roof, all matters relating to policies, licensing, as well as spectrum allocation for DTH, cable and FM radio, etc, which fall in the domain of I&B ministry, would get transferred to the DoT.
“I assure you that there is no convergence of mind between the two ministries. Sector-based policies, which are being constructed independently in different silos, will have to be reconciled so that they can gel together,” Khullar added.
Interestingly, the Trai has not been involved in the exercise of the Convergence Bill. “The Bill is a rehash of the Convergence Bill mooted over 10 years ago that lost impetus because of turf issues between I&B and telecom,” Khullar said.
fe Bureau | The Financial Express
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