Content producers have full freedom to price their content, but the prices shouldn't be perverse, says TRAI Chairman RS Sharma

TRAI Chairman RS Sharma talks about regulation in the Media and Entertainment sector and its importance

Nisha Qureshi
New Update
Content producers have full freedom to price their content, but the prices shouldn't be perverse, says TRAI Chairman RS Sharma

The consumer deserves to know the cost of what he or she is consuming and should not suffer, said TRAI Chairman RS Sharma, while addressing an e-session at the ongoing FICCI Frames event.

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Talking about the advancement in technology and how regulation has not been able to keep pace with it, Sharma said the approach of TRAI has always been light-touched.

“Convergence of technology in the broadcasting sector would enable optimal utilisation of networks and encourage mergers and acquisition in telecom and broadcasting operations. This will result in an increased competition and cost pressures separation of services and application from the networks, and offer opportunity for innovation to meet the consumer demand,” he said.

Sharma said the NTO implemented in 2018 was also intended at giving the consumers more choices to consume content. “We wanted to ensure that the real choice lies in the hands of the consumer, so that framework was litigated for quite a long time and ultimately in the summer of 2018, we were able to introduce that framework. Now, of course, certain aberrations came out during the implementation, which we rectified in another framework which we typically call as NTO 2.0. I think broadly now we are in a situation where there is complete transparency and we hope that things will play out, subject to these overarching considerations of non-discrimination transparency and bring choice to the consumers.”

Sharma also said the emerging trends will necessitate the realigning of the existing regulatory framework. “What is being done today is not the final word. Ultimately, regulation should kind of ensure that technological developments are not throttled. They are allowed to grow, they are allowed to take place and they are allowed to proceed.”

Addressing the industry’s concern about micro-management and over-regulation of the sector, he said the producers of the content must have the freedom to price the content but can’t price it in a manner that makes it perverse. “The whole thing has to be a balance between consumer choice, industries and the overall health of the sector,” he added. 

Another speaker at the panel, Atul Kumar Tiwari, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said OTT platforms will also be brought under the light-touch policy approach. “We are aware of the problems there and there will certainly be some amount of regulation of streaming content. We have had discussions with OTT providers and asked them to come up with a self-regulatory mechanism.” 

“We have given them some time, we expect them to get back to us with their own recipe for regulation,” he said. Tiwari said if there is a great convergence in the future, the whole regulation might need to be re-looked.

RS Sharma TRAI Chairma