“While the MIB (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) and the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India)... are regulating the existing distribution platforms, no regulatory framework is today existing for the same broadcast content which is getting delivered on wireless and wireline broadband to an application and visible on the large screens,” Rahul Vatts, chief regulatory officer for Bharti Airtel said during the TRAI’s open house discussion on August 23, 2023. “I think this [lack of regulation for OTTs] needs to be addressed, and this disparity needs to be addressed by the regulator who has to ensure an orderly growth of the sector. What happens if this anomaly continues? If this anomaly continues, sir, we are risking ourselves with exclusionary and discriminatory impact on subscribers,” Vatts mentioned. He added that the guidelines for downlinking the channels must be strongly enforced. [see below for more detail] The discussion was focused on the issue of creating a converged regulatory framework for telecom and broadcasting services, which TRAI had explored in a consultation paper. One must note that convergence of regulation would have an impact on internet companies that provide services for communication and content broadcasting. Context of Airtel’s statement: Earlier this year, Airtel had gone to TRAI to complain against Jio’s free streaming of the Men’s Indian Premier League (IPL) on its OTT platform. It had asked TRAI to prohibit telecom companies from offering differential pricing content on their applications if it is also available on DTH and Cable TV channels. Airtel claimed…
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