Pure-play broadcast to stay out of unified licensing purview

Written by Ashish Sinha | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 11 2013, 05:59am hrs
Due to cross-media restrictions barring a broadcaster and a cable/DTH entity holding stakes in each other, pure-play broadcasting companies and services will remain outside the purview of the proposed unified licensing regime for telecom and broadcasting offerings as suggested by the National Telecom Policy 2012.

However, telecom companies also offering cable television, DTH and IPTV services will need to come under a unified licensing regime, a panel under the department of telecommunications (DoT) has said.

As per the panel's suggestions, all licences pertaining to broadcasting services like DTH, FM radio, television channels, cable services and IPTV will continue to be allocated as composite licences bundled with spectrum despite the NTP-2012 suggesting otherwise. The information and broadcasting ministry will remain the nodal ministry regulating broadcasting services even if these are provided by a telecom company. The DoT panel, however, has suggested the formation of a single entity (for telecom and broadcasting companies) offering mobile, landline, DTH and cable TV services under one roof and generate a unified bill for all the services.

The panel has suggested that the new unified service delivery licensor may not have to develop the infrastructure to deliver all kinds of services. The Telecom Commission is expected to meet on February 18 to discuss these recommendations of the panel for new licences.

According to sources, the report of the panel has recommended that UL (services delivery) licensee need not create its own full infrastructure and at the same time delivers the services to the end users on a single platform. The panel has proposed another licence which will be Network Services that will own the network infrastructure that can be used by services delivery licence holders.

The panel suggests the end user would be able to interact with only one operator for all his needs such as fixed telephone, mobile phone and broadband access through fixed line, wireless broadband access, cable television, satellite television, IPTV for residential users... Further, a single billing would be feasible. The panel is also understood to have suggested 100% FDI regime for the telecom infrastructure companies commonly known as the telecom tower companies.