TRAI May Regulate TV Channel Streaming Apps Like Hotstar, Sony Liv; DTH Firms Support This Move

Telecom Regulatory Authority Of India or TRAI has now diverted their focus into the apps which stream TV channel content.

If this become a reality, then soo, users maybe asked to pay for watching the content on app, just like they do for watching the same content on TV via DTH/Cable network.

Can this become a reality?


TRAI: Why TV Channels Streaming Apps Are Unregulated?

OTTs such as Hotstar, Airtel TV and Sony Liv stream content from TV shows, and users can watch them for free.

While Hotstar has the ammunition of Star Network and owns the content of the network, SonyLiv has the backing of Sony Televsion and all their TV content.

On the other hand, Airtel TV has collaborated with most of the TV channels.

Now, TRAI is mulling over regulating these apps, which are streaming TV shows for free.

A new consultation paper is expected to be released in July, seeking industry’s and people’s views on this matter.

Why TRAI Wants To Regulate OTTs?

As per TRAI officials, streaming of TV content for free via OTTs is creating disparity among OTTs ahd DTH firms.

An unnnamed TRAI official stated that TV programming has been licensed to broadcasters, who are then required to sigh pacts with distributors (DTH/Cable firms) and serve to the end users.

Now, if OTTs are allowed to stream the same content for free, directly to the end-user, then licensing terms is violated, and DTH firms are at a loss.

He said, “If a third party, like an app, is showing the same channels without paying carriage charges and licence fee, it creates disparity,”

Broadcasters, OTTs Challenge This Logic

OTTs which are streaming TV content and broadcasters who are making them, both have refused to accept TRAI’s logic of regulating them.

Star India, Sony, Zee and Times Network and others have opposed the move to regulate their own app.

As per Star India’s response to the previous consultation paper released by TRAI, Govt. or TRAI has no authoroty to regulate the OTTs, as per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.

Star India said, “In addition, all internet companies are subject to the extant law of the land such as the Competition Act, Consumer Protection Act, intellectual property laws, to name a few. These legislative frameworks set the commercial and technical parameters and the legal boundaries for OTTs to conduct business in a market-based environment,”

MX Player’s CEO Karan Bedi also said that the move to regulate OTTs would be unnecessary.

DTH/Cable Firms Want Regulation

At the same time, DTH and Cable firms have approached TRAI, and have complained about the violation of licensing terms of the broadcasters, as they are streaming the same content on their OTT platforms.

Besides, they claim that the online streaming of the TV shows is creating a non-level playing field for them.

We will keep you updated, as more details come in.

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