Government plans a super regulator for communications sector

The DoT is likely to finalise the draft bill before the Winter Session of Parliament

New Delhi: A super regulator for telecom and broadcasting sectors may be on the unveil as the Department of Telecommunications revives the Communications Convergence Bill. The DoT is working on the idea of establishing a single regulatory framework for multi-faceted communications, IT and multi-media, sources said.

A committee has been constituted to develop a conceptual framework for the Communications Convergence Bill, which was originally drafted in 2000 under the BJP-led NDA Government, but shelved due to difference between the Telecom Ministry and the Information & Broadcasting Ministry on bringing the broadcasting sector under a super-regulator.

The Bill proposes a super regulator, called Communications Commission with defined powers, procedures and functions for regulatory and licensing functions, and an Appellate Tribunal, sources said. It is, however, not clear if the proposed regulator will be a different body or the mandate of Trai will be extended.

The DoT is likely to finalise the draft bill before the Winter Session of Parliament, they said. "We are working to set up a communications regulator. The modalities of it are yet to be worked out. There are two possibilities which is either the mandate of Trai will be extended or a new body will be set up," a source said.

Asked if there are plans to shelve telecom regulator Trai, the source said it is not likely as of now. The Communications Bill seeks to replace all old and redundant legislations which include the Telegraph Act of 1885, as well as Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act 1933, Cable TV Network (Regulation) Act 1995, IT Act 2000, sources said.

The super regulator will be a six-member body with a Chairman who will have a five-year tenure. Member will include one each from sectors like telecom, broadcasting, finance, management, accountancy and either law or consumer affairs.

An internal committee of the Department of Telecom (DoT) has already recommended providing telecom, cable and broadcasting services by a single company and paying for the services though a common bill.

However, these kinds of provisions will need a new set of regulation that can be introduced only through the new convergence bill, sources said. Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on September 6 said that "There is a talk of convergence bill but it is at a stage of infancy."

( Source : PTI )
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