MUMBAI: Ravi Shankar Prasad was, as expected, sworn in this evening as minister of state for information and broadcasting with independent charge.
I&B minister Sushma Swaraj moved to parliamentary affairswith additional charge of the health portfolio which was taken away from cine star Shatrugan Sinha, who was in turn moved to the low-key minister of shipping portfolio.
Prasad, is an articulate and familiar face on news channels, where he speaks for the BJP during political debates so the I&B ministry should not be uncharted territory for him.
Prasad is the brother-in-law of journalist turned Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Shukla and 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, was shifted to disinvestment minister Arun Shourie who now holds additional charge of that portfolio.
Mahajan, who resigned from his cabinet post as information technology, communications and parliamentary affairs minister last night, took charge as party general secretary.
See earlier reports:
I&B ministry readies for a new head in Ravi Shankar Prasad?
Mahajan, Jaitley trade places; Swaraj may move to parliamentary affairs