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New Delhi, Aug. 29

THE Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has suggested that only companies incorporated in India should be allowed to get into terrestrial broadcasting.

The regulator submitted its report on terrestrial transmission to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Monday. Without spelling out detailed eligibility conditions, it has said general disqualifications, which have been adopted for private FM radio could be used for private terrestrial television broadcasting also. This would mean that religious bodies, political bodies, advertising agencies and trusts, societies, non-profit organisations and controlled/associated companies would not be eligible.

It has not made any recommendation on foreign investment and said that this needs to be reviewed to bring about greater consistency in the rules of various segments of the media sector.

"Given the interest of the telecom sector in this area, this review would also need to take note of the likely convergence in future between telecommunications and broadcasting," the TRAI said.

Further, the regulator has recommended that the term for a licence would depend on whether it is being given for analogue or for digital mode. A longer term for digital licences may be given whereas for analogue the licences could be for a shorter period. The TRAI has also said the structure of the licence fee should be the same as for private FM radio. There should be an entry fee that is related to the level of competition and size of the market and can be determined by an auction process similar to what had been decided in the case of FM radio. It has suggested a revenue share of 4 per cent.

The licences could be for cities identified after an in-principle announcement is made. However, in case there is interest shown in particular regions then those regions should also be allowed to be put on bid. While no networking is permitted in FM radio, networking for television should be permitted to allow for competition with established national cable and satellite networks, it said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 30, 2005)
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