Recommendations by TRAI for National Broadcast Policy

The TRAI received 28 comments from different companies, service providers, and associations, among others

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Recommendations by TRAI for National Broadcast Policy

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Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released recommendations on inputs for the formulation of the National Broadcast Policy (NBP) in 2024.

“The broadcasting sector in India is growing rapidly. Content has become the principal and central product for the consumption of the viewers. From TV and radio being the prime source of content delivery mediums, new broadcast and distribution technologies like over-the-top (OTT) broadcasting services have revolutionised the content delivery mechanism. Other factors like economic development, enhanced content consumption and investments have also led to the growth of the sector,” stated the 180-page document released by the TRAI.

Here are a few of the recommendations:

  1. One of the stakeholders recommended that the policy should seek to propel the broadcasting sector as a catalyst for IP creation, connectivity for the Indian diaspora, generator of employment opportunities, positively influencing tourism and related industries and recognise the importance of soft power it gives to India’s standing across the world.

  2. Another stakeholder highlighted that a globally competitive and locally driven broadcasting sector that meets consumer demands attracts investments, creates quality content, maximises opportunities to monetise IP created in India, build resilient infrastructure, seeks to grow the segment’s social and nine economic contributions and sets new global benchmarks in terms of both distribution technology and quality content. Encourage more participation in regional content and enable its global reach.

  3. A stakeholder stated to create an inclusive, transparent, technology-neutral, and responsible broadcasting ecosystem that promotes a level playing field amongst all operators and ensures access to unbiased, diverse, and high-quality content, positioning the country as an unmatched, globally recognised relevant broadcasting hub.

  4. Stakeholders stated that measurement parameters with indicative metrics like economic contribution in terms of GDP, GVA and employment multiplier effect, revenue generation through incomes from advertising, subscriptions and overall industry revenue, direct and indirect employment generation across connected industries and skill development institutions and subscription figures through market share, Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), churn rates and subscriber count should be utilised to battle existing data gaps.

  5. One of the stakeholders opined for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Scheme related to staggered monthly payment plans to cover the one-time cost of purchasing DD Free Dish set-top box (STBs), small-sized dish antenna and other accessories for availing infrastructure facilities, for the ‘TV Dark’ households among the marginalised or economically weaker sections of society.

  6. Various stakeholders suggested that private DTH operators should be empowered to introduce services, akin to DD Free Dish, to increase television penetration in rural and remote areas where Pay TV services might not be as prevalent. Additionally, it has been suggested that broadcasters and DPOs should introduce affordable Free-To-Air (FTA) package options to make television services more accessible to a wider demographic section. Implementing tailored pricing and bundling strategies for rural markets can help narrow the accessibility gap in these regions.

  7. Stakeholders emphasised on establishing a transition plan providing appropriate protection for analogue radio for an interim period and transition to an all-digital environment, with legal certainty for all parties involved, objective conditions for process follow-up to evaluate the development, requirements, conditions and obligations.

  8. Various stakeholders commented on adopting a digital radio broadcast transmission standard that will ensure that all digital radio broadcast receivers in India are compatible with all digital radio broadcast transmitters and will enable the continuation of a ubiquitous and free radio service in India. The digital signal must have minimal impact on co-existing and adjacent analogue and digital stations and minimal impact on the host analogue station. Digital radio broadcast systems should be able to accommodate future upgrades and features. Digital radio services should be in multiple languages to cater to the linguistic diversity of India.

  9. A few of the stakeholders have also provided their comments on the indigenisation of STBs. One of the stakeholders commented that integrating the STB chipsets into the ‘Make in India’ initiative would help mitigate India’s dependence on foreign suppliers and foster domestic production capabilities while another stakeholder opined that all the STBs/CAS manufactured in India should comply with Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) norms, to ensure the delivery of high-quality products and services to consumers. The stakeholders also emphasised the promotion of soft STBs as a preferable alternative to digital STBs. The transition would lower distribution costs and mitigate piracy and cable disconnections.

  10. One of the stakeholders commented that the policy must encourage startups and SMEs to innovate and develop new technologies, products, solutions, processes or even new business models and/or ways of delivering broadcasting services in a new manner. Another stakeholder suggested that the promotion of startups and SMEs may be encouraged through incubation programs, seed funding, industry collaboration and streamlined regulatory processes.

The Authority floated a paper on September 21, 2023, to highlight the issues that needed to be considered for the formulation of the policy. Additionally, the TRAI received 28 comments from different companies, service providers, and associations, among others. The consultation paper raised approximately 20 questions requiring consideration of the stakeholders and their specific comments while identifying focus areas. 

TRAI National Broadcast Policy