By 2009, more than 150 countries have established independent regulatory authorities. Among these are several converged regulators, such as those in Australia, Finland, Italy, Malaysia, South Africa, Singapore, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Nearly 30 converged regulatory agencies have opened their doors in past seven years. The rationale for this accelerating trend is that a converged regulator is better suited to respond to an environment where distinctions based on service and network platform are becoming blurred. A converged regulator establishes a single government entity to oversee all matters involving the communication sector.
Despite this trend, most OECD countries still have separate regulators for broadcasting and for telecommunications. In addition, content regulation is typically addressed by a separate ministry or government authority (such as in India and Saudi Arabia) or by the broadcasting authority (Botswana, Chile, and Colombia). In India, there are two entities responsible for content regulation. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting monitors content related to broadcasting and film, and the Ministry of Information Technology regulates content related to the Internet. As noted in the figure below, many countries retain multiple government authorities responsible for the functions of broadcasting licensing, telecommunication licensing, spectrum allocation, and content regulation.
Source: Based upon Telecommunications Management Group, Inc. research and Telecommunication Regulatory Institutional Structures and Responsibilities, OECD Paper, DSTI/ICCP/TISP(2005)6/Final, at p. 31, 32.
||TextNational Communications Commission (CNC); Communications Secretariat (SECOM)
||Federal Broadcasting Committee (COMFER)
||Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology (MoCST); Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA)
||National Broadcasting Board (NBB)
||Ministry of Communications (MoC); Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (CRT)
||National Television Commission (CNTV)
||Telecommunications Secretariat (SUBTEL) within Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications
||National Television Council (CNTV)
||National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA); Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT)
||Egyptian Radio and Television Union [ERTU]
||Ministry of Interior (Internet security); ERTU (Broadcasting)|
||Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Postal Service (ARCEP)
||National Spectrum Agency (ANFR)
||Higher Council for Radio and Television (CSA)
|Hong Kong, China
||Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA)
|Broadcasting Authority (BA) andOFTA
||Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI); Department of Telecommunications (DoT)(for licensing)
||TRAI /Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MI&B)(for licensing)
||Ministry of Information Technology (MIT) (Internet; MI&B(Broadcasting)|
||Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT); Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC)
||Audiovisual Commission (AVC)
||AVC in coordination with TRC
||Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT) and Federal Telecommunications Commission (COFETEL)
||SCT; Secretariat of Public Education (SEP)
||SEP; General Directorate for Radio, Television and Cinemato-graphy (RTC) within Executive Secretariat |
||Ministry of Information Technology – IT and Telecom Division (MoIT) and Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA)
||Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA)
||Infocomm Development Authority (IDA)
||iDA; Media Development Authority (MDA)
||Uganda Communications Commission (UCC)
||Uganda Broadcasting Council (UBC)
||Office of Communications (Ofcom)
||Ofcom; Department for Culture, Media, and Sport
Federal Communications Commission [FCC], plusVarious state-level public utility commissions (PUCs)
||FCC; local government for cable TV franchises
||FCC, Federal Trade Commission (FTC)|
Operators are exposed to multiple sets of regulations and regulators, often delaying the rollout of IPTV and mobile TV services. Regulators often become embroiled in jurisdictional disputes over where their authority begins and another agency’s ends. In the Republic of Korea, for example, the Republic of Korea’s Broadcasting Commission considered converged service providers to be broadcasting companies, but the Ministry of Information and Communication argued that they were providing “value-added services.” Similar debates have arisen in Colombia between the National Television Commission (CNTV) and the Ministry of Communications over which body should regulate IPTV services. A common result of such bureaucratic infighting is that telecommunication operators cannot obtain IPTV authorizations, while their cable television rivals are free to begin offering them.
In China, the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) share broadcast licensing responsibilities − resulting in confusion over which agency will regulate converging services like IPTV. SARFT has interpreted a 1999 law as barring telecommunication operators from offering video services and has twice blocked operators from doing so. Since telecommunication operators are prohibited from controlling IPTV networks, they must enter into joint arrangements with broadcasters. For example, China Telecom, the country’s leading telecommunication operator, partnered with Shanghai Media Group, one of just four broadcasters granted an IPTV licence.
As governments look at how to promote new services such as IPTV and mobile TV, they should consider whether their institutional frameworks need updating. The Republic of Korea, for example, had four government authorities responsible for regulating the communication sector:
- The Telecommunications Commission,
- The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC),
- The Broadcasting Commission, and
- The Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
This overlap in agencies was delaying the rollout of IPTV services. In December 2007, the South Korean government enacted a new law eliminating MIC and transferring most of its functions to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy; the Ministry of Culture and Tourism; and the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs. In addition, the legislation called for a unified broadcasting and communications commission, merging the Broadcasting Commission, the Telecommunications Commission and MIC’s Broadcasting Policy Office.
 ITU Telecommunications Regulatory Database (2007).
 A “converged” agency can be defined as one that regulates multiple, previously separate regulated industries or sectors, reflecting the convergence of those sectors themselves (e.g., telecommunications, broadcasting and IT sectors). Some of these agencies may have existed for decades, but the majority were created in recent years, often through the combination of previously separate agencies.
 OECD, Policy Considerations for Audio-Visual Content Distribution in a Multiplatform Environment, DSTI/ICCP/TISP(2006)3/FINAL, Jan. 12, 2007.
 Telecomm. Reg. Auth. of India (TRAI), Recommendations on Provision of IPTV Services, at 20 (Nov. 28 2007).
 MII coordinates the deployment of the public telecommunications network, the television and radio broadcasting networks. However, the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) regulates broadcast content transmitted via radio, TV, satellite, cable, and the Internet and has authority to award or revoke licences to produce, distribute, and broadcast films, TV, and radio programs.
 China Telecom provides the equipment and broadband network while the broadcaster holds the IPTV licence and contributes video content.
 Farewell to the Ministry of Information and Communication, Telecom Korea News Service, Jan. 16, 2008.