TRAI evaluating consultation process to regulate OTT Platforms

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As reported by Livemint, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is evaluating a consultation process to regulate online video streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar.

The regulator has received multiple requests from industry stakeholders to develop a (pricing and economic) framework for the video streaming platforms and may add a separate section on such platforms in the soon-to-be-released consultation paper for over-the-top (OTT) platforms.

Stakeholders have expressed concern over certain broadcasters airing same content on internet channels as through DTH and cable.

The OTT Platform is witnessing a steady growth in India with emergence of several players such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, Vuclip, Voot, SonyLIV, ALTBalaji, Jio, etc.

In October, 2017, the Health Ministry had written to TRAI to issue an advisory to online movie and TV streaming firms to comply with anti-tobacco rules and display messages and warnings in scenes showing tobacco products or their use. The letter had come after the ministry observed violation of anti-tobacco rules by these companies.

OTT Platforms are currently unregulated in India. OTT regulation may be a big setback for the OTT space and may adversely impact innovation in the availability of such services which have been growing in India.

TRAI’s legislative competence in regulating the OTT sector is bound to be heavily challenged. If the OTT space is to be regulated, it should be done by means of a separate legislative framework rather than giving TRAI the authority to do so.

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