Regulators

I&B ministry readies for a new head in Ravi Shankar Prasad?

MUMBAI: Last night it was well-informed speculation. Today it is as good as confirmed. Though the official announcement is still to be made, information & broadcasting ministry sources say the next head of Shastri Bhavan will almost certainly be the present minister of state for coal & mines with additional charge of law & justice Ravi Shankar Prasad.

As reported earlier on indiantelevision.com, I&B minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to have a change of portfolio to parliamentary affairs. The new information on this front is that she will also be getting additional charge of the health portfolio which is being taken away from cine star Shatrugan Sinha.

Prasad, who is articulate and a familiar face on news channels, where he speaks for the BJP during political debates, is expected to get independent charge of the I&B ministry.

Prasad, who is the brother-in-law of journalist turned Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Shukla, is the elder brother of Anuradha Prasad, who heads BAG Films. Anuradha Prasad's production house delivers software to both Star India and Doordarshan,

With Swaraj out of I&B, it will be left to Prasad to oversee the rollout of conditional access systems in the broadcast sector, an area in which she showed a deep focus interest. The question that arises is whether Prasad will show the zeal that Swaraj showed in the matter, especially since the notification for the implementation of CAS in the four metros of Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai has already been issued. The deadline has been set as 15 July.

The I&B ministry is still to announce what will be the cost of the basic tier of free to air channels under CAS as too how many channels will be included in it. That may well be among the first issues that Prasad takes up as an A priority. Then there is also the pending issue of Star India's application for an uplinking licence for its Star News channel. Prasad will certainly have enough on his plate from Day 1.

Meanwhile, The information technology and communications ministry, earlier under Pramod Mahajan, is reportedly shifting to disinvestment minister Arun Shourie who will hold additional charge of that portfolio.

Mahajan, who resigned from his cabinet post as information technology, communications and parliamentary affairs minister last night, will take charge as party general secretary.

While this had been reported last night by indiantelevision.com, Arun Jaitley, with whom he swaps places as BJP general secretary, will be heading the law and commerce ministries and not Mahajan's earlier portfolios. This will be Jaitley's second stint in the law ministry.

See related story:

Mahajan, Jaitley trade places; Swaraj may move to parliamentary affairs

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