Indian gov't to form broadcast regulator

New body would take over from TRAI

NEW DELHI -- The Indian government is working towards establishing an independent broadcasting regulatory authority, something which has been in discussions for a while and also proposed in the Broadcast Services Regulation Bill which is expected to be tabled in Parliament.

Speaking informally at an event in Delhi Monday to mark World Freedom Day, Indian Information and Broadcasting minister Ambika Soni added that the overseer will look into areas such as foreign direct investment, digitization, FM radio and a fresh TV ratings system.

Soni said that the new body would take over all broadcasting issues currently being supervised by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which is expected to recommend its decisions on various broadcasting issues by the end of June. These include foreign investment standards for news broadcasters and technical issues such as spectrum allocation for new channels and tariffs for digital delivery systems.

An equally important issue pertains to content regulation, which has often been the cause of heated debates between the broadcasting industry and the government. Soni said the government was working for a system of “co-regulation,” where content regulation could be worked out  with the broadcasting industry, for which a blueprint is expected shortly.

Similarly, Soni said a decision is also expected on the pending issue for the establishment of an independent TV ratings agency, Broadcast Audience Research Council, as recommended by TRAI.