I&B Ministry presses for convergence regulation

NEW DELHI: Information & Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Wednesday said he would talk to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal to impress upon him the need to create a statutory mechanism to address issues related to convergence across media, entertainment and telecom.

"Convergence across media, entertainment and telecom space specially with digitisation kicking in, is inevitable. Therefore, at some point in time there will have to be an overarching (legal) architecture which looks at it holistically," Tewari told reporters on the sidelines of Convergence India 2013.

Admitting that convergence is a reality which cannot be ignored, he said: "I will talk to my senior colleague, the minster of telecom (Kapil Sibal) and see if we can work out a modus operandi whereby we can put a statutory architecture on the convergence format."

Efforts have earlier been made to have a legal framework for convergence of the three sectors. A Convergence Bill was tabled in Parliament more than a decade ago. The bill has sought to create an autonomous commission to regulate carriage of all forms of communications, and for establishment of an appellate tribunal and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

The bill aimed at promoting, facilitating and developing in an orderly manner the carriage and content of communications (including broadcasting, telecommunications and multimedia). The Convergence Bill had sought amalgamation of Information Technology (IT), Telecommunications and entertainment industry by replacing the Telegraph Act of 1985 and the Indian Wireless Act of 1933.

Tewari admitted that the convergence bill tabled earlier could not be worked on. "The EGoM (empowered group of ministers) will work on the prevalent conditions," he said.

Need to encourage production of indigenous STBs

Tewari said one of the government‘s primary concerns now is to ensure that digital set top box (STB) manufacturing happens in India as the whole process is going to lead to revenue expansion of about $4 to $5 billion, according to a Trai estimate.

"As we speak today, most of that business is not coming to India. So, that is an overriding priority for us as to how we are able to build an indigenous STB manufacturing model on to it," he said.

Tewari also said STBs should be inter-operable and wanted enough operators for the consumers to switch to.

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