TRAI recommendations not binding on MIB: Rathore
MUMBAI: The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) is not obliged to accept recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), MoS MIB Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has said in the Rajya Sabha.
The ministry noted that the TRAI has sent its recommendations on ‘Ease of Doing Business in Broadcasting Sector’ to the government on 26th February 2018. However, the recommendations of TRAI are not binding on the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The authority had floated a Consultation Paper on ‘Ease of Doing Business in Broadcasting Sector’ on 31st July 2017. The paper sought suggestions for possible improvements in various processes that establish a more business-friendly environment in the sector. The authority had received 32 comments and 1 counter-comment.
He also noted that the MIB had made a reference dated 21 August 2017 to TRAI seeking its recommendations on various issues including the possibility of the auction of Satellite TV channels, as in the case of FM Sector to increase the revenue of the Government.
TRAI floated a consultation paper on 19th December 2017 seeking views of the stakeholders on the issue. TRAI received 38 comments from stakeholders. It has not yet issued recommendations on the issue.
In December 2017, Rathore had said that the MIB has accepted the Inter-Ministerial Committee’s (IMC) recommendation to continue with the existing cross holding restriction in the guidelines for direct to home (DTH) operators.
While discussing the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations on consultation paper related to ‘Issues related to New DTH License’, the IMC had noted that the matter of cross-holding in DTH has to be taken into consideration in the larger context of other TRAI recommendations on cross-media holdings.
In the existing DTH licence guidelines, the authority has imposed a restriction of 20% on cross-media holdings. A broadcasting or a cable TV company cannot hold more than 20% stake in a DTH company. Similarly, a DTH company cannot own more than 20% in broadcasting or a cable TV company.
The TRAI had furnished its recommendations on “Issues relating to Media Ownerships” to the ministry on 12 August 2014 while the one related to ‘Issues related to New DTH License’ was issued on 23 July 2014.
The MIB has constituted an IMC to process the recommendations received from TRAI. The IMC examines the recommendations of TRAI and provides its comments/recommendations for approval of the ministry.
“IMC while discussing the TRAI’s recommendations dated 23.07.2014 on ‘Issues related to New DTH License’ has observed that the matter of cross-holding in DTH has to be taken into consideration in the larger context of other TRAI recommendations on cross-media holdings,” Rathore had said in the Rajya Sabha.
“Hence, the IMC recommended that the restrictions in the existing guidelines may continue till the matter is holistically resolved. The recommendations of IMC on the issue have been accepted by this Ministry,” he had stated.
Rathore had also said that the ministry is weighing in on the TRAI recommendations on cross-media holdings.
“Further, this Ministry is also concerned about the recommendation of TRAI regarding cross-media holdings with an objective to ensure plurality of news and views and availability of quality services at reasonable prices to the consumers,” he stated.