We’re conveying broadcasters’ concerns to the regulator: MIB Secy Apurva Chandra on NTO 2.0

Chandra was speaking at APOS India Summit that began virtually on Tuesday

Mumbai: Despite the pandemic-induced slowdown, India’s media and entertainment industry can grow at least nine per cent every year to reach $70 billion by 2030, said ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) secretary Apurva Chandra.

The top ministry official was discussing the evolution of India’s broadcasting industry at the Apos India Summit that began virtually on Tuesday.

Highlighting how the $25 billion industry is being recognised as a significant generator of employment, Chandra said the sector’s role in growing the nation’s soft power through dissemination of content worldwide is laudable.  The phenomenon has especially been powered in a big way by the pandemic-induced OTT boom.

“The massive proliferation and adoption of OTT platforms have led to Indian content being translated into several languages and released internationally, thus making it available anywhere in the world at the same time. As I understand from the likes of Amazon and Netflix, there are a lot of viewers of Indian content abroad, including in countries like Mexico, Brazil and Spain,” said Chandra.

The burgeoning of online video has however been accompanied by growing piracy concerns. While there exists in India a robust and well-entrenched Copyright Act that is administered by the department for promotion of industry and internal trade, the MIB is in the drafting stages of a ‘Cinematograph Act’. “The new legislation which will have a specific anti-piracy provision has already been introduced in the parliament,” informed Chandra.  

Additionally the ministry has also agreed to extend in-principle support to CII’s (Confederation of Indian Industry) proposal of formulating an industry body to tackle all forms of copyright violations.

The MIB secretary also noted the recent developments pertaining to the implementation of the New Tariff Order (NTO) 2.0, and said the ministry is in touch with the broadcasters regarding the issue.

“The New Tariff Order (NTO) 1.0 guidelines implemented a couple of years ago gave rise to some apprehensions among broadcasters, and these seem to have been further aggravated by NTO 2.0. Prior decision on the matter has been challenged in the Supreme Court. We are also in touch with the broadcasters regularly and are conveying their concerns to the regulator (Trai),” said Chandra, adding that the ministry can act as a bridge between industry stakeholders and regulators, particularly in the context of recent regulatory changes.

Chandra added that he welcomes the idea of the ministry having a larger role to play in the regulation of the broadcasting industry. “The MIB has received a request for inducting a part-time member from the sector into Trai, and we are open to the suggestions/nominations in this regard," he added.

Sharing his perspective on the scope for a unified regulatory policy/body for the M&E industry, he said that given the complexities and diversity of the sector, there needs to be a much larger debate on whether all stakeholders can come under a common policy. “It is bound to have its own challenges and concerns,” he reckoned.

Among other initiatives, a ‘Broadcaster Seva Portal’ will soon be launched to take all application and approval procedures online. Changes in uplinking and downlinking guidelines can also be expected in the next three-four months, he said.

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