The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) yesterday extended the submission and counter-comments deadlines for two consultations papers — one related OTT comms platforms and the other on regulatory framework for broadcasting and cable services.
The regulator said the industry stakeholders had requested for more time to firm up their views on the two important issues.
“Keeping in view the request of an industry association for extension of time for submission of counter comments, it has been decided to extend the last date for submission of counter comments up to 29.09.2023,” the regulator said about the consultation on ‘Regulatory Mechanism for Over-The-Top Communication Services and Selective Banning of OTT Services’.
The consultation on the OTT communications services (WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, etc.) has been hotly debated in the telecom and broadcast industries with stakeholders having different views on the subject.
For example, the Indian Broadcast & Digital Foundation (IBDF), representing the interests of member TV channels and also video OTT players (aka OCCS- online curated content services) has questioned the fact whether TRAI has any jurisdiction to discuss regulations for the overall OTT realm, whether communications or OCCS.
“We would like to point out that neither the OTT Services, or OCCS (which is a subset within the overall OTT space) as an OTT, fall within the definition of ‘telecommunication services’ under the TRAI Act. Therefore, we understand that the present consultation paper and proposed recommendations go beyond the functions of the TRAI as envisaged in Section 11 of the TRAI Act since, inter- alia, the consultation exercise is with respect to matters not envisaged within the scope or ambit of Section 2(1)(k) read with Section 11(1)(a) of the TRAI Act,” the IBDF had submitted in response to the consultation paper.
Meanwhile, the deadline for submission of comments and counter-comments for the paper on ‘Review of Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting and Cable Services’ have been extended to October 3 and 17, respectively.