MUMBAI: Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has suggested to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that certain norms be made mandatory for OTT providers, in order to bring them on a level playing field with TV broadcasters and not just limit their comparison to telecom service providers (TSPs). OTT providers should abide by certain rules including one that OTT platforms streaming live TV should mandatorily carry all Doordarshan channels like DTH, MSOs or cable operators do.
Under these regulations, Prasar Bharati is of the view that those OTT services should be included that provide audio/video content or broadcast services such as live, delayed or on-demand content. Such apps ‘should comply’ with basic regulatory and legal conditions which could be a subset of those that currently exist for TV broadcasters.
Prasar Bharati made these suggestions as part of its comments to a recent TRAI consultation paper. While the consultation paper only looks at comparing OTTs to TSPs, Prasar Bharati feels that since several OTTs are providing content that is parallel to linear TV, it is only fair that when rules are made, it is taken into account that they not only substitute TSPs but even traditional broadcasters. After this, the type of service provider should also be made a criterion for creating regulatory and licensing norms.
Prasar Bharati feels that currently, OTTs have a free reign but if OTT providers are relaying news content then they should register with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB). The need for regulation, in this case, is especially high given the rising incidences of fake news and mischievous reporting. The regulations will also make OTT providers accountable and responsible especially if some content could be deemed to be ‘against national security’.
It also brought into focus the system of audience measurement that has been established for linear TV and the same should also be applicable when these channels are shown live on OTT platforms.
Prasar Bharati also sees the positive side of OTTs being helpful during calamities and natural disasters where it could prove as an important tool for broadcast. For this, it says that there needs to be synergy between various stakeholders.
TRAI released a consultation paper on regulatory framework for OTT communication services in November. “The authority has chosen in this consultation to focus only on regulatory issues and economic concerns pertaining to such OTT services as can be regarded the same or similar to the services provided by TSPs,” TRAI said in the release. The paper mainly focused on issues regarding the relationship between OTTs and TSPs.
The pubcaster has strongly advocated for basic regulatory and legal conditions to be applied to OTT providers offering broadcast services through internet.