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Concerns raised over broadness of TRAI’s OTT regulation consultation paper

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and the Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) have jointly voiced their apprehensions to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regarding the regulator’s consultation paper on Over-The-Top (OTT) regulation. Both organizations express concerns that the paper’s broad scope could stifle innovation within the rapidly expanding OTT sector.

In their letter to TRAI, IAMAI and CUTS highlight several key concerns:

  • Regulating OTT Under Telecom Laws: The proposal to subject OTT platforms to the same regulations as telecom service providers is deemed “disproportionate” and “unnecessary.”
  • Mandatory Licensing: The suggestion that OTT platforms should be required to obtain licenses from TRAI is regarded as “unjustified” and could potentially hinder innovation in the sector.
  • Content Sharing with TRAI: The proposal for OTT platforms to share their content with TRAI raises privacy concerns and is seen as invasive.
  • Content Blocking: The proposal to grant TRAI the authority to block OTT content is viewed as a “dangerous precedent” that may lead to content censorship.

IAMAI and CUTS have jointly called on TRAI to withdraw the consultation paper and embark on a fresh approach to OTT regulation that is more balanced and focused.

The OTT sector in India has witnessed rapid growth in recent years, emerging as a significant source of entertainment and information for millions. Additionally, it has fostered innovation among startups aiming to revolutionize content delivery to consumers.

TRAI’s consultation paper has elicited a mixed response from the OTT industry. Some companies endorse the paper, asserting that it is necessary to hold OTT platforms accountable for hosted content, while others criticize it as overly restrictive and potentially stifling to innovation.

In the coming months, TRAI is expected to issue its final recommendations on OTT regulation, which are anticipated to exert a substantial impact on the sector’s future in India.

Beyond the concerns expressed by IAMAI and CUTS, other potential risks associated with OTT regulation include higher costs for consumers, as OTT platforms may transfer compliance costs to them, and increased barriers for new entrants to the market.

Balancing the need for regulation to ensure OTT platforms’ content accountability with the preservation of freedom of expression and innovation is pivotal. TRAI must meticulously weigh the potential advantages and drawbacks of regulation before presenting its final recommendations. News Track Live

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