15 Dec 2017
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TRAI to issue consultation paper on streamlining the process of issuing TV channel licences

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will soon issue a consultation paper on streamlining the process of issuing TV channel licences.

The regulator has received a reference from the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) to look into the issue and provide recommendations on making the process of issuing licences less cumbersome.

A media report had stated that the ministry is considering auctioning TV channel licences on the lines of FM radio frequencies to earn some extra revenue.

“There is a reference which has come from the ministry of information and broadcasting. We will come up with a consultation paper for the same. It is not going to be about the auction of TV channel licences. The reference by the ministry talks about the process,” TRAI secretary SK Gupta said on the sidelines of ‘The Big Picture’ summit.

“Currently, the process of getting a licence for a TV channel is very cumbersome. They want to know what can be done to streamline this process and how it can be made time bound and further encourage ease of doing business.”

Gupta also noted that the wireless planning and coordination (WPC) has stopped giving permission for new licences following a Supreme Court order that all airwaves have to be auctioned.

“There are some other issues also that have been flagged. WPC has stopped giving permission as per the SC order that all airwaves have to be auctioned. Therefore, the ministry has asked what could be the various methods for this and to check if an auction is feasible,” said Gupta.

The issue of TV channel licences has also been discussed in the ‘Ease of Doing Business in the Broadcasting sector’ consultation paper issued by the TRAI. The regulator will shortly come up with recommendations on the same.

As on 31 October, the ministry has granted licences to 1099 channels of which 222 TV channel licences have been cancelled. The total permitted TV channels having valid permission in India stands at 877 including 388 news and current affairs channels and 489 non-news channels.