TRAI proposes content regulation for IPTV

By , agencyfaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | November 29, 2007
TRAI has recommended that TV channels be responsible for their content on IPTV and IPTV service providers be responsible for the non-broadcast content

IPTV, which & #BANNER1 & # is the broadcast of television programming on the Internet, is changing the way people view television. Apart from the regular TV channels, viewers can watch movies or listen to music on demand, play multi-player games with other IPTV viewers and even place orders on shopping networks; IPTV thus offers much more interactivity than conventional TV.

The content currently broadcast on IPTV does not come under any regulation like in the case of cable TV. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released draft recommendations which propose that IPTV service providers will have to air the TV channels in the same form for which broadcasters have received up-linking/down-linking permission from the ministry of information and broadcasting. Here, TV channels will be responsible for the content they provide for IPTV broadcast.

TRAI proposes also that the service providers themselves be responsible for the content they provide in the form of games, movies and music on demand.

Rajesh Seth, vice-president, e-commerce, IOL Broadband, says, "If this draft becomes regulation, then IPTV players needs to be extra careful and they should monitor the content or audit it before delivering it to the viewers." Seth says that this applies even to content aggregators who outsource content from small producers. IOL Broadband offers content to MTNL, which provides IPTV services in Delhi and Mumbai.

Arvind Mohan, executive vice-president, Wire & Wireless India Ltd (formerly Citi Cable), says, "Content regulation on IPTV should be similar to content regulation on the TV broadcasting system, under which both TV channels and cable operators are held responsible for showing any objectionable content."

So far, only state owned telecom operators MTNL and BSNL have started IPTV services in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. Private telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications are expected to launch their IPTV services soon. The IPTV service providers simply act as carriers of content similar to cable TV operators. TV channels and content aggregators such as IOL Broadband are currently supplying content to IPTV players.