We missed out on this one but is important. The modi government is looking to create a super regulation for the communication sector, to be called as Communications Commission. This new body will replace the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
The bill proposes that the constitution consist of a 6 member regulator with one chairman, who will have 5 year tenure, and members from sectors like telecom, broadcasting, finance, management, accountancy and low or consumer affairs.
The new law will replace the existing laws applicable to the print and electronic media sectors. It will also allow to regulate content and carrier under a single authority. This will enable continuing the efficacy of broadcasting and telecommunications regulation.
Besides this, it also seeks to replace The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), consisting of a 3 member constitution along with a Chairman. Essentially, this tribunal which will be called as Communications Appellate Tribunal will have the power to oversee dispute resolution.
This is not the first time the government tried to converge all acts. In 2001, the government tried to pass the Communication Convergence Bill. One of the aim to pass such bill was to “to establish a regulatory framework for carriage and content of communication in the scenario of convergence of telecommunications, broadcasting, data-communication, multimedia and other related technologies and services.” The bill was tossed out because the government couldn’t come to conclusion on regulating content.
While the government seems to be firm that it’s a good idea to combine content and carriage under a single authority, this also gives them a chance to abuse it. Too much power (regulate, license, punish, among others) under a single authority is never a good idea, unless executed sincerely.
Who else is doing this?
In a nutshell, a lot of countries are doing this. The European Union formally adopted a similar new regulatory framework for the communications sector, which was agreed upon by the Council of Ministers, on 24 April 2002. In July 2005, the Australian Broadcasting Authority and Australian Communications Authority to form the new Australian Communications and Media Authority, among others.