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Media ownership concentration posing threat to democracy, recommendations on it in works: Vaghela

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Concentrated media ownership poses a potential threat to democracy and telecommunications and broadcasting regulator TRAI is working on recommendations to address related issues, a senior official with the regulator said on Wednesday.

During a speech at the CII Big Picture Summit, Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, PD Vaghela, said experts at the regulatory body are looking into issues with over-the- top and TRAI will aim to provide a lightweight framework for the same that irons out the inconsistencies created by technological disruption.

”It’s the antithesis of the phenomenon of concentration of media ownership. Concentration of media ownership has been identified with a number of problems. Undoubtedly, the most important of these is the threat it poses to freedom of expression and democracy. Given the importance of the issue, we are developing recommendations on media ownership issues,” Vaghela said.

In April 2022, TRAI launched a consultation paper on the need to monitor cross media ownership and control, mechanisms and related issues following the sweeping changes in the sector with the advent of digital technology.

The regulator issued a series of recommendations on media ownership in 2014, but these have yet to be accepted by the government.

In a bid to check influence on news and opinion, TRAI in 2014 suggested banning political parties from entering the broadcasting space, while recommending several restrictions on corporate houses in this regard. .

When it comes to corporate ownership, the regulator had said, you have to see how independent the editorial team of a media house they own is. Discussing the work on technological convergence and the framework for OTTs, Vaghela said technological disruption will take place and traditional players need to adopt new technologies for sustainability.

“Recently, we received references from the government for OTT-based services and issues arising from convergence. Our experts explore these issues with a view to creating a level playing field between different service delivery mechanisms. Our goal will be to introduce a lightweight framework that irons out the inconsistencies created by technological breakthroughs. We cannot have a regulatory imbalance between the conventional technologies of yesteryear and the new technologies,” Vaghela said.

He said the framework will not stifle innovation and competition. ”Technical disruption is a reality. The government can step in for a short time and try to create an even playing field,” Vaghela said.

He cited an example of the disappearance of 2G and 3G technology with 4G technology expected to be overtaken by 5G technology.

Vaghela said the government will intervene in the short term, but will come up with policies that are flexible in nature that will allow new players to come in. Disney Star Country Manager and Chairman K Madhavan, who is also chairman of the CII National Committee on Media and Entertainment, said news, print, music and radio continue to be important contributors to the industry. and undergo massive changes.

”It’s time for these sectors to understand the evolution of consumer habits and reinvent themselves with a digital approach. With the appropriate support from policymakers and regulators, I am confident that with the opportunities before us, our industry can achieve its $100 billion ambition in the shortest possible time,” he said. . He said television broadcasting has been badly affected, pending a resolution on the new tariff order.

”Quick resolution is important for consumers, broadcasters as well as distributors. Ideally, we should adopt a principle of abstention, in line with the practices of most developed markets. The industry would like to see less regulation. This will encourage new and growing areas like OTT, innovation and investment,” Madhavan said.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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