You may no longer have to depend on cable operators or Direct-to-Home service for watching television. The government is now ready to bring in a regulation for television through Internet and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV).
A joint group comprising officials from the Information and Broadcasting and the Telecom ministries has been constituted to draft a regulatory framework for IPTV and Internet television. "The group is due to submit its report soon," an official said.
The government will also ask the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to consult the industry for laying down functional guidelines. TRAI will look at the facilities to be offered by service providers.
Multi-Service Operators and cable operators have expressed concern, saying IPTV would be able to show foreign channels without any restrictions.
The joint group will also examine the issue of content. "For IPTV and mobile television, only the channels approved by the ministry can be allowed. But it would be difficult to enforce the same in case of internet television," the official said.
The government's content code will apply to IPTV and mobile television, a senior I&B ministry official, said.
The government is considering the law under which the new broadcast modes can be regulated as well as how it should be done. "The current broadcasting law does not cover IPTV, internet television or mobile television because the mode of transmission is not traditional--meaning, satellite or terrestrial," a senior I&B ministry official said. For the ministry, the issue is that if the new broadcast modes are considered cable services, the definition of broadcasting service and cable operators will need to change, an official said.
Ministry officials believe that by the time the new technologies are ready to be implemented on a big scale, the regulatory framework will also be ready. So far, MTNL and the Bharati Group have announced IPTV services on a pilot basis in South Delhi. Prasar Bharati has started mobile television services for six channels in New Delhi area.
The introduction of new technologies may coincide with implementation of the Conditional Access System in remaining parts of four metros – sometime early next year. These IPTV companies and Prasar Bharati also expect at least a year to launch the service in a full-fledged manner.