Regulators

Swaraj is confident, but Convergence Bill may not emerge this session

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Despite information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj's assertion on 6 May that efforts will be made to bring in the Convergence Bill during the current session of Parliament, it is highly unlikely that the policy aiming to have a super regulator for the IT, broadcasting and telecom sectors will be introduced in Parliament before the current session comes to an end on May 16.

According to government sources, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT and telecom, headed by Communist Party of India's Member of Parliament, Somnath Chatterjee, is yet to submit its report on the Convergence Bill.

The Convergence Bill, aiming to have a policy framework for the convergence era, was referred to the Standing Committee last year to examine the various clauses after being introduced in Parliament.

If India gets to enact this piece of legislation, it would only be the second country in the world, after Malaysia, to have such a convergence policy in place.

"The last date for feedback/representation on the Convergence Bill was April 22 and the members are yet to examine the feedback clause by clause," a member of the Standing Committee said, pointing out that it is highly unlikely that the panel would finalise its observation in the form of a report before 16 May.

On 6 May, replying to supplementaries during question hour in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House), Swaraj had said the Convergence Bill provides for a panel to deliberate on contents of programmes to be shown on television. "The bill has been referred to a Parliamentary committee. We will try to bring it before 17 May," she had said.

But now with the member of the standing committee saying that the report has yet to be submitted Ms Swaraj and the industry will have to wait for a while - as has been happening for the past five years - for any major broadcasting regulation.

To another query, Swaraj had said the government is aware of some surrogate advertisements being shown on the small screen and moves were on to make advertisers accountable for their display.

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