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TRAI releases consultation paper on promoting local manufacturing in broadcast sector

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a consultation paper on promoting local manufacturing in the TV broadcasting sector, from broadcast equipment like head end to set-top boxes. This is in line with the government’s ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ campaigns.

The digitalisation of the Indian broadcasting sector began in 2012 and was completed across the country by March, 2017. The government has accorded the highest priority to transform India into a global design and manufacturing hub. However, the share of locally manufactured equipment/devices in the broadcasting distribution networks remains quite low, said TRAI.

Keeping this in view, TRAI has issued a suo-moto consultation paper on “Promoting Local Manufacturing in the Television Broadcasting Sector”. The paper aims to identify underlying challenges as well as enabling measures that can facilitate the transition from an import-driven industry to a sustained ‘Atmanirbhar ecosystem’.

TRAI, for example, in its consultation paper, points out the case of the dependence on foreign Conditional Access System (CAS). CAS is a proprietary component, whose manufacturing has been historically dominated by large foreign vendors from the US, Europe, and China. For STB manufacturing, there are contract manufacturers developing the core chipsets and components and software applications. However, there was limited expertise in India to develop CAS boxes till some time back. The development of Indian CAS was expected to break this dependence and enable the adoption of local STBs. However, due to techno-commercial reasons, the availability of local CAS has so far not been able to boost the demand for Indian STBs as anticipated.

The prominent issues for consultation include:

  1. There is a need to have a standard understanding of the scope of ‘local manufacturing’ amongst all the stakeholders to bring uniformity in the consultation. What should be the scope and definition of ‘local manufacturing’ in the lines of manufacturing vis-à-vis assemblage of the television broadcasting equipment and their core components?
  2. Will a stronger R&D ecosystem enable the growth of the local broadcast manufacturing sector? If yes, suggest steps to promote and incentivize R&D undertaken in India to build domestic capability in television broadcast equipment manufacturing.
  3. In view of the concerns raised about Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) affecting the cost competitiveness of the local products, what policy measures do you suggest to address this issue? 

TRAI has invited written comments on the consultation paper from the stakeholders by 19 January, 2022. Counter comments, if any, may be submitted by 2 February, 2022. The comments and counter-comments may be sent to jtadvbcs-3@trai.gov.in.

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