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    NASSCOM and IAMAI Oppose OTT Inclusion and Regulatory Convergence in Draft National Broadcast Policy

    Top industry bodies NASSCOM and IAMAI opposed the inclusion of OTT platforms in the National Broadcasting Policy (NBP) while supporting the current regulatory framework over a proposed converged model. The organisations also critiqued any possible imposition of content quotas in an attempt to promote regional content, with IAMAI arguing for a light-touch regulatory approach in the NBP. These statements were made as part of the organisations’ comments on TRAI’s consultation paper on the draft NBP. Released last month, the consultation paper saw many industry bodies, stakeholders and companies provide their comments on the shape the policy should take and the sectors it should cover.

    Responding to a question raised by TRAI on strategies to promote Indian content, both organisations argued that the Indian market is actually dominated by Indian language content as the market is adequately fulfilling consumer demand, dismissing the need for local content quotas.


    In its submission, the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) rejected the inclusion of OTT services in the National Broadcasting Policy, stating that, “the nature of provision of broadcasting and OTT (digital services) is completely different; OTTs should be kept out of scope of the National Broadcasting Policy (NBP).” This position is consistent with the one expressed in its submission to the draft Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill and its response to TRAI’s pre-consultation paper on the NBP where it asked for separate treatment of telecom, broadcasting and digital services, given differences in technology, infrastructure and mode of transmission.

    The organisation pointed out the difference between broadcasting and OTT. Broadcasting refers to the transmission of electromagnetic waves over space or cables while OTT involves the streaming of media over the internet. According to NASSCOM, this meant that “OTT services operate on the ‘application layer’ over existing network infrastructure provided by telecom service providers or internet service providers.” They also referred to a recent decision by the Telecom Disputes and Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which held that OTT and broadcasting are separate services. The submission stated, “Therefore, OTTs should be kept out of scope of the Broadcasting Policy. If Government of India wants to create a policy for OTTs, it should be dealt under a separate policy initiative between MeitY and MIB.”

    Advocates of the Indian Music Industry have expressed similar positions.

    The consultation paper also referred to a “regulatory challenge” posed by the same content being available on multiple platforms and asks for a converged regulatory approach. However, NASSCOM defended the current regulatory framework and cited “clear technical distinctions” between telecom, broadcasting, and digital services and asked for the separate regulatory treatment to continue. In its response to a 2023 TRAI consultation on a convergence of carriage of broadcasting and telecommunications services, NASSCOM described the ‘different layers’ of the internet “separately and constituting different markets for physical infrastructure, networks, applications, and content.” In short, the organisation wanted regulators to recognise telecommunications, digital and broadcasting as distinct services and did not want a single approach towards all.

    TRAI also presented a series of 20 questions about different aspects of the NBP like OTT platforms, content regulation and copyright that stakeholders could answer. NASSCOM provided a point-by-point response to some of the questions presented in the paper. Here’s one of them:

    • What policy or regulatory measure should be adopted to turn India into a global content hub and how can local talents and creators be promoted?

    For NASSCOM, however, this is a non-issue as “data on investment and availability of Indian content do not support the assertion of any market failure and there is no need for a discussion on local content quotas.” The group pointed to the fact that on TV broadcasts, only 1% viewership is attributable to English; 56% of Indian TV viewership is in regional languages and 43% in Hindi.


    The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) laid down a few general principles that it wished to see in the NBP. It first asked the TRAI to clarify the scope of the policy and restrict it to the broadcasting segment, specifically excluding OTT platforms. IAMAI reasoned that there were “fundamental differences” between TV, where operators broadcast their licensed content at a scheduled time through Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs) and OTT platforms, which have their own library of content which can be accessed at any time by users over the internet. The former is a ‘pull’ based medium while the latter is ‘push’ based.

    On a similar note, the submission also asked for different policy approaches towards content and carriage. Carriage is the installation and maintenance of TV distribution networks while content is the production of content to be distributed by TV channels on established distribution networks.

    The IAMAI further argued for limiting the scope of regulation to only those aspects which cannot be addressed through market/competitive forces, with the regulator intervening only in case of market failure. Similar to NASSCOM, it pointed out that the demand for local content was being met through market forces, making any local content quotas redundant. In the same vein, it also critiqued any “inorganic” requirements to work towards social welfare or creating public service content which allegedly “diminishes creative autonomy and the ability to cater to the diverse needs of consumers.”

    The IAMAI also presented point-by-point responses to many questions from the paper. Here are its responses to some of the key questions Medianama highlighted in the past:

    • What should be the parameters for measurement of the broadcasting sector’s revenue, employment generation, subscription figures, etc?

    The IAMAI recommended commissioning research to estimate the sector’s current and potential contribution to the GDP, quantify intangible contributions of broadcasting to the information and knowledge economy and establish future targets for TV and radio, based on current estimates.

    • Strategies to be adopted by the government to provide affordable TV services, augment R&D capabilities, indigenous manufacturing, generate employment, promotion of startups and skill development.

    The IAMAI asked for “regulatory forbearance,” which will allegedly allow market players to offer competitive and affordable services to TV dark homes. Alongside that, R&D capabilities be enhanced by engaging with research institutions and working in consonance with the National Policy on Electronics and the National Digital Communications Policy (2018). The group also advocates for an all-India curriculum that covers various aspects of the M&E sector such as content creation and management.

    • What policy or regulatory measure should be adopted to turn India into a global content hub and how can local talents and creators be promoted?

    While rejecting local content quotas, the IAMAI advocated for a stable policy that offers incentives for local production in India alongside national and international cooperation.

    • What principles, measures and strategies should be adopted by the government of India to strengthen the public service broadcaster and promote quality content creation and dissemination? Further, how can the TV and radio services provided by the broadcaster be proliferated to fulfil its mandate?

    IAMAI recommendations aimed to strengthen India’s public service broadcasting by clearly delineating it from commercial broadcasting, enhancing public interest programming in regional languages across mediums. The core focus was on promoting diverse, locally relevant, and nationally significant content while ensuring financial sustainability, operational efficiency, and wider reach through partnerships and infrastructure improvements.

    • What measures should the NBP take to promote Indian content on OTT platforms?

    The IAMAI pointed towards the existing dominance of Indian language content on OTT platforms and stated that the market is already adequately satisfying the demand.

    • What regulatory and policy measures should be taken for the promotion of online gaming in India while protecting the public?

    The industry body suggested the government operationalise the amended IT Rules to effectively govern, administer, and regulate the online gaming industry. If there are concerns, the body advised prompt amendment of the rules to resolve ambiguities and to consider adopting these regulatory models to fortify the framework:

    1. Three-tier regulatory structure similar to OTT platforms in the IT Rules
    2. Registration mechanism requiring online gaming intermediaries to register with MeitY
    3. Alternative models as deemed appropriate by MeitY, balancing oversight and growth

    It also asked the authorities to conduct periodic reviews of the IT Rules’ effectiveness and introduce additional safeguards as needed. IAMAI also asked the government to formalise advisories restricting advertisements and endorsements of betting/gambling platforms into enforceable regulations under the IT Rules or other legislative frameworks.

    What role should the broadcasting sector play to fulfil social and environmental responsibilities? What should be the strategies for empowering various communities like women, PwDs, etc. And make the industry environment friendly? How can technology be used to provide disaster alerts?

    The IAMAI suggested providing subtitles and audio descriptions for hearing and visually impaired people.

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    The post NASSCOM and IAMAI Oppose OTT Inclusion and Regulatory Convergence in Draft National Broadcast Policy appeared first on MEDIANAMA.

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