Regulators

Comment: 3 areas that new MIB minister Rathore needs to target

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/smartcrop_800x800/public/images/tv-images/2018/05/23/Rajyavardhan-Rathore.jpg?itok=6ZlzvnEl

In a recent reshuffle of his cabinet colleagues and their portfolios initiated by PM Modi, a surprise move was not Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) minister Smriti Irani’s removal, but handing the independent charge of the portfolio to her till-now junior, Rajyavardhan Rathore.

There is some merit in giving Rathore full responsibility of MIB, which was conceptualised by the nation’s founding fathers to be the government interface with the media and public, in general. That MIB could have lost its relevance in this digital age - an issue being debated in certain quarters - is another story altogether for some other time. Why Rathore at the helm of MIB seems just what the doctor advised?

First, he is young and suave. Second, he comes with a good pedigree of being an army officer and an Olympic medalist. Third, he’s comparatively young and has built a youth and people-friendly image, apart from his work as independent charge holder at Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports - his latest initiative on Twitter, #HumFitTohIndiaFit , aimed at encouraging fitness by inviting celebs is already a hit on social media.

As Rathore has served as a junior MIB minister long enough to get to know the complex issues that come with the terrain, it is expected that he is best suited to address the challenges being faced by the media industry. But for that, he needs to aim at the following three areas and hit the bull’s eye.

Content Regulation

The previous MIB minister waded into controversies because of her largely perceived unpopular move to create a panel in April this year to explore regulations for online media/news portals and online content. It did not help her or the government’s cause as this announcement, though being hinted at for several months, came close on the heels of a widely protested move to cancel the accreditation of journalists if found peddling fake news, while the government did not define clearly what constituted a fake news. Though the order was rescinded at the behest of the PM’s Office, the online content committee lingers on directionless and with nobody willing to father the baby presently. That this move antagonised not just online journalists, but also social media players (many of whom are backed and funded by government’s sympathisers) and video-on- demand portals is a story in itself.

Rathore knows media in India enjoys certain constitutional freedoms, including the right to exercise freedom of speech and expression. Therefore, any move targeted at “regulating” such content shall only be interpreted as silencing criticism. That the online committee is packed with government officials with minuscule industry representation and zero presence of online media raises questions on government’s motives.

What’s more, doubts have also been raised on the jurisdictional propriety of MIB to create such a committee in the first place. The government allocation of business rules that determine the remit of various government agencies clearly highlights that for all “policy matters relating to information technology; electronics; and Internet” only Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeITY) is competent to make decisions. The ambit of MIB is limited only to “the enunciation and implementation of the law relating to radio and television broadcasting in India by private Indian companies or Indian nationals”.

With multiple laws applicable on online content, there seems to be no need of any additional regulation for online content, though MeITY could think otherwise, but it’s for it to take a call. Still, a self-regulating mechanism that places uniform standards over user-generated content platforms and video-on-demand portals is the need of the day. This shall also be in line with Rathore’s views expressed after assuming full charge at MIB where he stressed upon self-regulation as the only means of regulating media.

As the final authority at MIB now, Rathore needs to walk the talk on online content regulation and, probably, let the committee set up by his predecessor die a natural death.

Online content aside, in the world of traditional broadcasting there is a need to strengthen the already established self-regulatory mechanisms such as the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) of the IBF and a similar self-regulatory set-up of the NBA India.

Ease of Doing Business

It would be an understatement to say that the past year has been a difficult period for the Indian media and entertainment (M&E) sector what with after-effects of demonetisation of high-value currency notes and a new tax regime of GST rolled out last year. The story remains the same for ease of doing business in the sector as well.

On this aspect, Rathore could focus on the recommendations made by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on`Ease of Doing Business in Broadcasting Sector’ and implement them in letter and spirit.

A unilateral decision by the previous leadership of MIB to impose a processing fee of Rs 100,000 per day/channel on temporary live uplinking of events (such as sports) and the same amount for seeking minor amendments (like change in name, logo, etc) has been causing heart burns.

What was the rationale behind such moves to review processing fees? Allegedly non-revision for several years and that such a move could bring in some revenue for the government. But, should a government use licensing/permission fee as means of revenue maximisation? Probably, no.

Another issue that demands attention from Rathore is the denial of permissions by DoS to satellite TV channels using private satellite capacity, especially foreign. Here, the newly appointed minister shall have to display his trademark leadership and try to resolve the concerns of his constituents (TV channels, DTH operators, teleport operators, etc) vis-a-vis DoS.

Building an Investment Friendly Environment

In the recently held global Asia Media Summit 2018 in New Delhi, PM Narendra Modi said that Asia has emerged as a promising region for media businesses and offers opportunities for international cooperation. This statement highlights his government’s push for increasing investment inflow across sectors of the Indian economy – including creative industries such as M&E.

In this respect, Rathore will have to hit the road running --- which he has done --- and look at all the factors impeding investments in the sectors under him. This could necessitate reviewing licensing conditions and guidelines, which many in the industry believe hamper investments.

Can Rathore bite the bullet and recreate the magic that he unveiled one fine day years back to get India the first Olympic medal in an individual event? Certainly, he can. Keep tuned in for the next episode.

Also Read :

MIB clears TV channel applications; Rathore calls for stakeholder meets

Comment: India's NTP 2018 gets digital makeover but needs complimentary policies

Comment: MIB's botched whip on fake news akin to testing waters

M&E to add 1 mn jobs in 5 years: Sudhanshu Vats

Latest Reads

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/15/mobile.jpg?itok=u3YqD9Hd
DPIIT seeks MIB views on issues regarding 26% FDI in digital media sector

MUMBAI: As the cabinet recently amended the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy allowing 26 per cent overseas investment in digital media with government approval, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has sought the views of the Ministry of Information and...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/11/tab.jpg?itok=kiFijqlq
No current plans to impose regulation on OTT sector: MIB secretary

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) secretary Amit Khare said there is a need to rethink regulating over-the-top (OTT) platforms because some sections of the society are voicing concerns on its content. However, Khare also added that the ministry currently does not have any plan to...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/10/trai_0.jpg?itok=8Q_UqNnB
TRAI organises international training programme on 'Emerging Trends in Broadcasting' with ITU

MUMBAI: The   Intemational  Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) are jointly organizing an Intemational Training Program during 9th -11th October 2019 in New Delhi on "Emerging Trends in Broadcasting".

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/10/trai.jpg?itok=15qmYZIl
TRAI mandates DPOs to let subscribers view, modify subscription through TRAI app, portal

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Standards of Quality of Service and Consumer Protection (Addressable Systems) (Second Amendment) Regulations, 2019 (6 of 2019). TRAI's prevailing regulations/orders for the television...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/04/prakash.jpg?itok=f4Do6DPP
I&B Ministry plans regulations for OTT platforms

MUMBAI: The Information and Broadcasting Ministry (MIB) is contemplating a regulation for OTT platforms on the lines of print and electronic media, according to a news article by the Press Trust of India. Minister Prakash Javadekar, however, said that the government will not be taking any step that...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/01/trai.jpg?itok=Qek4njUn
DPOs say broadcasters misusing TRAI tariff order with heavy discounts

Distribution platform operators (DPOs) believe that broadcasters have misused the flexibility available to them to give a discount on the sum of a-la-carte as high as 90 per cent. The operators have shared their views on Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) consultation paper (CP) on ‘...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/09/30/prasar.jpg?itok=rNTEHcRx
Broadcasters want mandatory DD channels to be part of NCF base pack

Prasar Bharati and other private broadcasters want the 25 DD mandatory channels to be part of 100 FTA channels permitted in the Network Capacity Fee of Rs 130. The public broadcaster is of the view that the channels notified by the central government should be made available to subscribers without...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/09/28/itv_inb.jpg?itok=qmXhvgeI
MIB issues notice to 69 channels to provide technical parameters with EMMC

MUMBAI: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued a notice instructing 69 private satellite channels to provide complete set of technical parameters with Electronic  Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC)  of the ministry. While the notice was issues on 25 September, the channels have been...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/09/27/Supreme%20Court.jpg?itok=3Xv1wPox
Supreme Court allows transfer of DTH licence fee petition from Kerala HC

MUMBAI: Moving one step closer to the long-fought battle on licence fees between direct-to-home (DTH) operators and the government of India, the Supreme Court has allowed the transfer of a related case to the apex court from the Kerala High Court.

Regulators Supreme Court

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories