New bill to regulate TV, Net, mobile services soon

Hindustan Times, September 08, 2014

A super-regulator for telecom, television and internet could soon become a reality with the NDA government deciding to revive the Communications Convergence Bill that was dumped by the previous UPA government.

The telecom ministry, headed by Ravi Shankar Prasad, has firmed up a proposal for setting up the cross sector regulator ? the Communications Commission ? having overriding powers to oversee entire communication framework, including those under the information and broadcasting ministry.

The last NDA government, headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had introduced the Communication Convergence Bill in Lok Sabha in 2001.

The government then took almost two years to convince information and broadcasting ministry about importance of the proposed law and by that time its term got over and the bill lapsed. The UPA government in its ten years did not pursue the bill.

Government sources said Prasad is keen to push the bill after getting Parliamentary nod for National Judicial Appointments Commission. In an interview to DD news, Prasad confirmed that the bill was being considered.

However, the officials said that the broad contours of the bill have been firmed with the commission having seven members including the chairperson and an appellate authority. Each member would be a domain expert on areas such as telecom, broadcasting, information technology, law and consumer affairs and finance.

The commission will have well defined powers and procedures for regulatory and licensing functions. It will not regulate in areas where market competition can provide desired results, an official said, adding that its main function would be to stimulate completion for better services and preventing monopolistic operations.

The telecom department has proposed mandatory sharing of infrastructure for universal access in unserved and undeserved areas and for public safety. The bill may also make it mandatory for the companies to create infrastructure in strategically important areas.

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