Regulation of OTT apps to be clarified in revised telecom bill: Report


A revised draft of the telecom bill is likely to be released by the (DoT) in less than a month and it will address issues like regulations of content on the over-the-top (OTT) platforms and the direct-to-home (DTH) services, a report in the Economic Times (ET) said.

Officials aware of the matter said that the bill will “clearly” state the Centre’s aim to regulate only communication apps “that give the same service as telecom operators”.

“The revised bill will clearly define which aspect of broadcast services — those using a telecom network — will be regulated. Other types of broadcasting services such as DTH and TV channels will be excluded,” an official told ET.

Due to the current lack of clarity, various OTT apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar have raised concerns. There are also concerns that apps like Zomato and Swiggy may be regulated.

Under Schedule 2 of the draft bill, broadcasting services, including DTH, community radio stations, uplinking and downlinking of TV channels, IPTV services and FM radio broadcasting services through private agencies, would require licences.

The schedule has given a rise to the apprehensions that DoT may encroach on the powers of the ministry of telecom.

While the issues around broadcasting and content OTTs have reportedly been resolved, the DoT is still deciding on the regulations of like Signal and Whatsapp, ET said.

Ashwini Vaishnaw had previously said that the DoT would opt for a “light-touch” regulatory framework for such OTT apps.


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