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Always ensured choice lies with the consumer, argues TRAI chief RS Sharma

TRAI chief RS Sharma said, the regulator has always tried to ensure that the choice always lies in the hands of the consumer.

July 09, 2020 / 08:51 PM IST

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chief RS Sharma, on July 9, said it is difficult for a regulator to strike a balance between consumer interest and objectives of other stakeholders. His comments came as a rebuff against criticism that the agency has been micro-managing broadcast sector and its steps have been detrimental to the latter's interests.

"The objective of TRAI is to ensure the interest of consumers, stakeholders, distributors and creators and ensure there is growth of the sector. Since 2004 to 2017, there were price caps. If you put these price caps, it disincentives producers. Why should I keep any control on pricing? The basic approach of TRAI in regulation has been a light-touch one. We believe that the market is the best determinant of products and services. As long as there is transparency and non-discrimination, we don't need to intervene," he said.

Sharma made these comments at a session of FICCI Frames 2020.

He said, the regulator has always tried to ensure that the choice always lies in the hands of the consumer.

On the evolution of the sector and change in consumption patterns of viewers, Sharma said proliferation of cheap data will drive OTT services.

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"Technology has changed the entire landscape of the broadcasting sector. Convergence has started happening in a huge way. This is providing new opportunities for growth and my view is that regulation should ensure that technological developments are not scuttled," he added.

Meanwhile, on the contentious subject of a regulatory structure for OTT platforms, Atul Kumar Tiwari, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, said there has been a discussion with the companies on this topic and the ball is in the court of OTT service providers.

"We invited them to come back to us with some kind of self regulatory mechanism. We have given them some time, 100 days. We expect them to get back to us with their own recipe for regulation. Mr. Khare was emphatic in saying that he wanted a light touch regulation. There will be convergence taking place in the future. Maybe we need to have a relook at regulations. The problem is since it is streaming services, under the regulatory system it comes under the IT Act. I would say we'd like to have a light-touch regulation in place. We would like to have a light-touch regulation but there has to be some kind of regulation on the streaming content," he said.
Soumalya Santikari Having started off as a sports scribe, I made the sobering transition to business journalism in 2014. Always up for belling the cat.
first published: Jul 9, 2020 08:51 pm

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