Broadcasting bill will be firmed up after consultations


Admitting that the process of finalising the long pending broadcasting bill needs to be "accelerated", the Centre on Friday said it would be firmed up only after consultations with broadcasters on its various provisions.

 

Senior officials in the ministry of Information and Broadcasting said in New Delhi that the process of consultation with broadcasters on the bill is on and a few rounds have already taken place.

Though no target has been set by the government to introduce it in the Parliament, the broadcasters have to decide (on it) "and the pace (on its firming up) has to be accelerated", a top ministry official said.

Earlier this week, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni said there have been reservations raised by civil society groups and the National Commission for Women on television content and these are being resolved through discussions.

"Talks are on with stakeholders and some result will come out of these. Though I would like to add that provisions of the bill should not be seen by broadcasters as some kind of a sword hanging on their heads," Soni pointed out.

Ministry officials said the government has no plans to come up with any kind of regulation on television broadcasters, but there is a need for a mechanism, which would be worked out through consultations with broadcasters.

The minister also said "I don't see why broadcasters should have apprehensions about content regulation. I would like to categorically say that the government does not want to put draconian laws on electronic media".

"However some ground rules are needed. But no laws would be imposed on broadcasters... It (the mechanism) will be formed through consensus and it will also look at broader issues concerning broadcasters like taxation etc," she added.

At the same time, the ministry is also working towards finalising the headends-in the-sky (HITS) policy before the end of the year, a senior ministry official said.

The official added that it had been taken to the Cabinet in February this year, but could not come through.

Now the ministry is again distributing the cabinet note on HITS to all the ministries.

On increasing the FDI limit in the print sector, the officials said efforts are on to arrive on a consensus on it through consultations with media representatives.

The Ministry feels that through serious discussions, the issue needs to be taken forward, a top official said.

Though the government is ready to roll out phase III of FM radio stations bidding, several bidders of the second phase are facing financial problems and once that is settled, the third phase would be rolled out, officials said.

They said the Ministry is also mulling commercial usage of its archives of films and documentaries. 


 
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