On 15 May 2019, the Delhi High Court stayed Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s order to direct-to-home (DTH) platforms on restoring old plans of long duration pack (LDP) subscribers and abstaining from moving them to the new tariff order which was introduced to empower consumers to have their own choices.
Some call it ‘offensive and derogatory’ and hence should be banned; some say it is a unifying force. This is the great saga of the word ‘Dalit’. On June 8, 2018, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court had asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to consider issuing a direction to media to stop using the word ‘Dalit’. On August 7, 2018, the ministry issued a circular directing the media to refrain from using the word ‘Dalit’ and to instead use ‘scheduled caste’. Is the system becoming intolerant, heading for sensorship of the Media?
Over the last two decades, telecommunication and broadcasting services have become ubiquitous and now reach out to the most remote and underserved areas empowering millions of people. However, persons with disabilities (PwDs) are often not able to access the ICT services on account of lack of necessary accessibility features or unaffordable prices of the equipment or due to unavailability of required services to make them compatible for use by such persons.
The current Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) R.S. Sharma is a pro-active man who has been pushing many changes; he had endeavoured and also succeeded on many occasions to bring in several much needed reforms to keep the regulatory authority in sync with time. In his latest such endeavour to achieve more transparency between the consumers and the service providers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) launched three new apps to rate quality of services, speed and performance. All three apps are available on Google Play for download. The three new apps are: Mycall app, MySpeed app and 'Do not disturb (DND 2.0)'.
As per TRAI's quaterly report released In Feb 2017, the number of broadband subscribers increased from 218.27 million at the end of Nov-16 to 236.09 million at the end of Dec-16 with a monthly growth rate of 8.17%.Top five service providers constituted 83.93% market share of the total broadband subscribers at the end of Dec-16. These service providers were Reliance Jio Infocom Ltd (72.16 million), Bharti Airtel (43.56 million), Vodafone (35.02 million), Idea Cellular (27.04 million) and BSNL (20.36 million).
Broadcasters cannot be allowed to have a free hand on pricings
Private broadcasters often give examples of Taiwan, South Korea and the US which have lifted the government control of tariff regime of television channels, and they call India the last country to still wield a power in deciding what the broadcasters should charge from the viewers. But the private broadcasters ignore the fact that India, unlike these developed countries, has 70 per cent poor population which cannot pay high rates for watching their favourite channels. Our rates should be commensurate with our economy.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released its recommendations on ‘In-Building Access by Telecom Service Providers’ on Jan 20 to enable the telecom operators to obtain efficient access on reasonable terms and conditions and for the better upliftment of the industry.
TRAI has earlier issued Quality of Service (QoS) regulations for different television delivery platforms in broadcasting sector from time to time with a view to ensure better quality of TV broadcasting services to the consumers. These regulations were issued when the digital revolution in the broadcasting sector and use of ICT technologies for managing QoS & complaint redressal were at the nascent stage. In today’s digital broadcasting scenario where substantial digitalization has been achieved, the basic QoS provision and performance parameters are largely similar across the television distribution platforms. Subscription of services, complaint redressal and even the consumption of services have become platform agnostic. In digital environment, consumer awareness about the service offerings, ease in subscription, service management and redressal of consumer complaints by the service providers in a time bound manner are vital areas of concern to ensure good quality of service to consumers. Optimum utilization of ICT technologies will go a long way in ensuring better quality of television broadcasting services.
Participating in a discussion at the 5th Annual Media, Advertising & Entertainment legal summit 2016 on 20 October titled ‘ the Good old Media Wars- The Regulated Vs the Regulators’, I felt that title of the discussion should have been the ‘unregulated vs the Regulator’ because till date Broadcast sector does not have any section of the Industry regulated except of course, thousands of Small Cable TV Operator’s who are regulated by Cable TV Act of 1995 but being very small and too widespread, have no strength to fight the Regulator. Being not so conversant with English language in which all are regulations are written, they do not even understand what the regulator has in store for them.
The number of people listening to radio is expected to grow further after completion of Phase-III of the FM radio expansion activity. This will further enhance the reach of advertiser to even larger segments of our population. As a results, the advertisements on radio are likely to increase. This will not only boost the growth of radio industry but will also lay enhanced emphasis on listenership measurements as substantial expenditure on advertisements will depend on it.
After receiving reports of some TV channels airing content aimed at inciting communal and terrorist violence and causing security threats, MIB has issued advisory to all cable operators and directions to state authorised officers for taking immediate action against any such TV channel.
On 9th May, the Telecom Authority of India (TRAI), in exercise of the powers conferred upon it under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997, to protect the interest of service providers and consumers, directed all the broadcasters of pay channels to strictly comply with the provisions of clause 3C of Tariff Order, 2004 and clause 4 of the Tariff Order, 2010 at the time of providing signals of TV channels including in term of CPS agreements.
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