Technology changed the landscape of broadcasting sector, convergence providing new growth opportunities: R S Sharma, Chairman, TRAI

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New Delhi: Mr R S Sharma, Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today said that the technology has changed the landscape of broadcasting sector including the distribution, production side, and entire value chain.

Addressing a webinar ‘Regulating Creativity: Overcoming Legacy Challenges to Shape the Future of M&E’, organized during ‘FICCI FRAMES 2020’, Mr Sharma said that that technology has been the biggest disruptor. “There is a huge convergence happening in this sector and the habits of the people have also seen a change. This has provided new opportunities for growth in the sector.”

Mr Sharma said that it is the proliferation of high-speed networks in cheaper, smarter devices that will result in rapid growth of the Video on Demand and the OTT services. “Convergence of technology in broadcasting sector would enable optimal utilization of networks and encourage mergers and acquisition in telecom and broadcasting operations. This will result in an increased competition and cost pressures separation of services and application from the networks, and offer opportunity for innovation to meet the consumer demand,” he added.

Mr Sharma said that the approach of TRAI is of a very light touch regulation and we want the market forces to operate. “Market is the best determinant and the best accelerator for adoption of new technology, new demands and satisfying the consumer. Till the time there is fair play, transparency, we don’t intervene,” he added.

Highlighting the role of competition and safeguarding the consumer interests, Mr Sharma said that the consumer deserves to know the cost of what they are consuming. “Consumers should not suffer, the competition must play but it should be done in a manner which gives full freedom of choice to the consumers,” said Mr Sharma.

Commenting on the emerging technologies, Mr Sharma said, “With the new technologies, there will again be a disruption and the emerging trends will necessitate realigning of the existing regulatory framework. “Regulation should ensure that the technological developments are not throttled but they are allowed to grow.”

Mr Ajit Pai, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, while highlighting the new technologies in the US said that more than 60 percent of video streaming worldwide is on mobile devices. “We are introducing the concept of WI-FI 6, the next generation of internet in the US. Another game-changer for the media and entertainment industry will be 5G.” He further said that mobile gaming will be a huge market in coming years.

Mr Atul Kumar Tiwari, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting said that as the lockdown goes away, the discretionary consumption expenditure will also rise, leading to growth in M&E sector. He further said that the Ministry is in consultation with all concerned stakeholders to get infrastructure status for the broadcasting sector.

Ms Jyoti Jindgar Bhanot, Secretary I/C, Competition Commission of India (CCI) said that the convergence has brought a lot of efficiencies at the same time it cannot be ruled out that there is room for anti-competitive action.

Mr Vivek Couto, Executive Director & Co-Founder, Media Partners Asia (MPA) moderated the session.