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Regulation is required in a healthy democracy: I&B minister Naidu

MUMBAI: Regulation is required in a healthy democracy. However, regulation should not become strangulation to stop the growth, Minister for Information & Broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu said at the two-day seminar organised by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on the occasion of completing two decades.

“Without regulation, there will be exploitation. Because of regulator, the prices are low and there is some sort of competition,” Naidu added.

Venkaiah-Naidu1Speaking on the role of TRAI, the minister said that the transition to digital broadcasting had posed several challenges and the role of TRAI was extremely crucial in this regard for overcoming any hurdles that may put the transition to newer technologies on a slow path.

Naidu congratulated TRAI on completing two decades of regulatory services to the nation, which had contributed immensely to the growth of telecom and broadcasting sectors while keeping consumer protection in mind.

Naidu said that the goods and services tax (GST) reform will prove to be a game changer for the Indian media and entertainment sector, especially the broadcasting sector.

Elaborating further, he mentioned that the broadcasting sector in the country was at the threshold of entering a new era of digital broadcasting, which would open lots of opportunities to use latest technological innovations to not only enhance reach but also enhance the quality of the reach.

The revival of radio, the digitisation of cable and the free-to-air DTH audience growth point to the latent demand for broadcasting in the Indian market at a time when broadcasting in advanced markets in the west is losing out significant space to digital on-demand media platforms.

He also mentioned the public broadcaster Doordarshan’s push towards Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), which is getting expanded to another 44 cities from the existing 16 cities. The minister acknowledged and appreciated TRAI’s recent recommendation on the time-bound implementation of DTT in India.

The minister stated that the government was committed to providing an enabling environment through various policies for the further growth of the media and entertainment sector.

The Digital India campaign, along with the Make in India initiative, would strengthen industries such as video streaming, online music services and gaming in India, taking advantage of increased internet penetration. Naidu also mentioned that indigenous manufacturing of various digital broadcasting equipment had taken roots under the initiative of Make in India. He urged all stakeholders to encourage and promote indigenous development of equipment in the country.

Naidu stated that the gap between the premium DTH market and the low-quality cable market lay an opportunity that was currently being tapped by the FTA DTH platforms like Doordarshan’s Freedish.

With transparent online auctions allowing for market-based discovery of the value of these FTA channels, there was an audience revolution of sorts with rural audiences getting on the FTA DTH bandwagon and contributing to enhancing the number of entertainment channels, he noted.