The consultation process for the upcoming Indian broadcasting bill that will regulate streaming will be “fair and independent,” the head of India‘s media regulatory body says.
In September, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) invited industry stakeholders for consultation on the formulation of a national broadcasting policy. In recent days there have been concerns that some streamers would oppose the bill on the grounds that it would impose restrictions on them.
On Tuesday, speaking at the AVIA conference in Singapore, TRAI acting chair Meenakshi Gupta said: “Everybody who is working in TRAI is absolutely clear, from the authority to the officers who are working there, that we have to be absolutely fair and independent. Under no circumstances [will] we succumb to any pressure from wherever.”
“The job that has been given to us is very, very important. And we have to do it in an absolutely independent and in a very fair and balanced manner,” Gupta added.
Indian streamers currently adhere to a self-regulatory digital media ethics code suggested by the government in 2021. Once the bill becomes an act, after passing through lawmakers in India’s two houses of parliament, TRAI will become the regulatory body.
Variety understands that there were concerns among some streamers about the bill might impose price caps. Gupta made it clear that there would be none and it would be up to individual streamers to decide their pricing.
The consultation paper will consider all points of view on broadcasting, Gupta said. “We have diversity, we have all kinds of cultural dimensions, but we are very resilient and are a very strong democracy. And I think over the years, the way things have evolved, we all have learned to hear the other perspective. And that is very important. It’s part of our cultural ethos to listen to everybody’s [point of view] and then take an informed decision,” Gupta said.
Gupta also addressed newer technologies, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality. “There should be no situations where this new technology is used in an inappropriate manner, which can put anybody into a difficult situation,” Gupta said. “As we are evolving, and we all are very enamored by what these new technologies can do for us, including me, but at the same time, we have to be extremely careful, particularly in this audiovisual industry, that there are appropriate ethical standards that are followed by all concerned.”