Industry associations will ask the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) for more time to submit comments on the Broadcasting Bill. The new Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill 2023 is a revamp of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995 that has been in effect for three decades, regulating broadcasting over linear television.

The new legislation is open for public consultation, with the last deadline for submission being December 9; however, industry associations, including Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation and Internet and Mobile Association of India, will ask the MIB for more time to draft submissions, according to sources. 

businessline spoke with executives working for broadcasting and streaming companies that are members of said associations, who said that they have asked these associations to seek more time to make submissions to the MIB. 

The draft regulation is inviting opposition from Internet firms as it seeks to bring “Internet broadcasting networks,” which include Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and OTT broadcasting services under the regulatory ambit of the original Cable Act (1995), much to their chagrin. This means that the current model of self regulation and grievance redressal for OTT firms will be replaced with a content evaluation and registration system followed by broadcasters. 

Legal experts and civil society alike have highlighted that this is going to have a chilling effect on creative and artistic freedom in the streaming space, which has already been self censoring many of its projects in the recent past. Moreover organisations such as the Internet Freedom Foundation believe that by applying stringent rules and codes to OTT firms might increase the financial and compliance burden on these platforms. Especially as OTT programming is in principle different from linear programming, allowing users to opt out from consuming its content. 

Senior executives in the OTT and streaming space have told businessline that such an extensive overhaul requires a thorough evaluation, which necessitates the need for more time. 

Potential differences in submissions from IBDF and IAMAI will be observed keenly as both bodies represent two different type of streaming applications. The IBDF is an association of broadcaster led streaming applications which is likely to invite this bill, on the other hand IAMAI represents purely internet based streaming firms like Disney and Amazon Prime which have sought low regulation or self regulation till now.