State governments cannot go into broadcasting alone: ​​I&B Ministry

Those already streaming their content have been urged to do so via public broadcaster Prasar Bharati

Those already streaming their content have been urged to do so via public broadcaster Prasar Bharati

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a notice on Friday stating that no ministry or department of the Central, State and Union Territory governments and their associated entities should engage in the broadcasting or distribution of dissemination activities in the future.

Those who are already streaming their content have been asked to do so through the public broadcaster, Prasar Bharati, and entities distributing the streamed content have been asked to “opt out” by December 31, 2023.

The ministry said the advisory was issued in view of the recommendation of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Cricket Association of Bengal case and the legal opinion from the Ministry of Justice.

The move could have political implications, as among those who could be affected by the advisory are Tamil Nadu’s Kalvi TV and Arasu Cable, in addition to Andhra Pradesh government IPTV.

Exclusive privilege

Stating that the I&B Department was the nodal agency for all matters relating to broadcasting, the notice indicated the power of legislation over matters of “posts and telegraphs, telephones, wireless, broadcasting and other similar forms of communication” and the exclusive privilege to grant licenses. as regards “telegraphs and electricity”, belonged to the Centre.

In 2012, TRAI suggested that central and state governments, their companies, enterprises, joint ventures with the private sector and government-funded entities should not be allowed to enter the broadcasting and/or distribution sector. of television channels. . He relied on the recommendation of the Sarkaria Commission and the verdict of the Cricket Association case.

The Supreme Court observed that state control actually meant government control, which in turn meant control of the political party or parties currently in power. It further observed that public service broadcasting should be in the hands of one or more corporations established by statute and that the constitution of such corporation or corporations should be such as to guarantee their impartiality in political matters. , economic, social and other public issues. They should promote pluralism and diversity of opinions and viewpoints, the council said.

In the context of some states’ demand for their own broadcasting stations, TRAI had cited the views of the Sarkaria Commission and the Verghese Committee, noting that to control “centrifugal” tendencies, the demand for a competing power or exclusive to States regarding broadcasting could not be supported.

Functional independence

“The importance of Prasar Bharati, which is an independent statutory body, should also not be lost sight of. TRAI suggested that the body respond to the legitimate aspirations of government entities for broadcasting activities, while at the same time recommending the ‘arm’s length relationship between Prasar Bharati and the government be further strengthened to enhance its autonomy and functional independence,’ the council said.

Based on the recommendation, the ministry said, the existing operational broadcasts regarding some of the central government ministries and departments and some state governments had already been brought under the control of Prasar Bharati through MoUs.

To implement the latest decision, the entry of Central/State/Union Territory governments into the educational broadcasting business would be permitted through the Prasar Bharati route through “appropriate” agreements. All these existing activities should also be placed under its responsibility. Until then, uninterrupted broadcasting of ongoing education channels and other scheduled programs would be permitted.

Under the existing policy guidelines, government universities, colleges, schools, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, some self-governing bodies and agricultural universities are eligible to establish community radios.

Comments are closed.