Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Telecom & Broadcasting: Jaipal Reddy wants a new regulator for broadcasting

News from The Hindu

While the IT and Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran is sulking (because his grandfather wants him to), new Information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy says he would like to see a different regulator for broadcasting.

The previous NDA government made a mess of CAS (Conditional Access System) and faced with massive resistance from all sections of the society, forced TRAI to be a regulator for broadcasting as well, besides the telecom space TRAI was regulating.

Since then TRAI has gotten into trying to understand the issues behind CAS as well as FM radio licensing issues. I had recently attended an open house session organized by TRAI in Chennai on FM and Cable TV related issues and was fairly impressed with Pradip Baijal, DP Seth and gang who were present.

There is no need to look for a different regulator, if the current bunch perform their job adequately. In fact, I am of the view that Telecom and broadcasting should be regulated by a single body as the future is convergence. This is exactly what happens in USA: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates "interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable". In UK, Office of Communications (Ofcom), does precisely the same: "regulating across television, radio, telecommunications and wireless communications services." UK in fact brought the Telecom regulator and the various Broadcasting regulators together to create Ofcam only recently.


  1. There is no shame in taking a leaf out of the US govt. agencies and tailor it for India. Whatever little I know about agencies like FCC, FTC, FAA, NTSB, USDA and FDA, I'm impressed with the policies. Thanks to "information for everyone" act(something similar), you get most of the information online.

  2. Can you add "Post a Comment" link also? Save me a click :-)

  3. Pari: the current design is a bit too tight. Adding 'post a comment' link will affect the look & feel. Anyway, I will experiment.

    On taking up good ideas from USA, the trouble in India is that independent regulators are a new concept. SEBI (stock exchanges), TRAI (telecom and broadcasting) and IRDA (insurance) are fairly new. Even RBI's autonomy has been followed only over the last decade or so.

    It is in that light you have to look at Jaipal Reddy's statement. But it is clear that our regulators can learn a lot from how FCC or Ofcam function and adapt similar methodologies.