TRAI Plans to Bring OTT Platforms Under Broadcaster Licensing Rules

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Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is planning to regulateover-the-top (OTT) platforms that stream TV channels, including the likes of Hotstar, Airtel TV and Sony Liv, in line with a licensing framework similar to the one for TV channel broadcasters.

Television programming is licensed to registered broadcasters who are then allowed to provide the content to DTH or cable service providers, under a dedicated framework.

“If a third party, like an app, is showing the same channels without paying carriage charges and licence fee, it creates disparity. Either both should be under the ambit of the licence, or both should be exempted,” said a TRAI official.

In India, a broadcasting licence is valid for 10 years, and the licensee must comply with the programming and advertising code under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.

TRAI had released its OTT consultation paper on ‘Regulatory Framework for Over The Top (OTT) Communication Services’ in November 2018. The consultation paper was open for public comments until December 24, 2018.

“OTT service providers should not be subject to fresh regulations since they are not comparable to the services offered by telecom operators, said TV Ramachandran, Broadband India Forum (BIF) President.

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