I&B minister calls for balance between media commercialisation, public issues

NEW DELHI: Information & broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has called for a proper balance and synergy between the commercialisation of the broadcast media and the concern for larger public issues.

Pointing out that at a time when globalisation is taking place at a tremendous pace along with commercialisation, the preservation of cultural identities, heritage, age-old values and traditions should not be lost sight of. In this context, the local and regional content becomes very essential he said, adding that, "What is good for the West need not necessarily be good for the East too".

Inaugurating the 2nd General Conference and Associated Meetings of the Asia-Pacific Institute of Broadcasting Development here last evening, Prasad said that the electronic media is expanding in the Asia-Pacific region at a great speed, which entails great responsibility on the broadcasting organisations.

Though there can be no compromise so far as the freedom of media is concerned, Prasad said the broadcasters must not forget that the consumer also has got freedom of choice. In what sounded like a hint to the broadcasters, especially pay broadcasters operating in India, the minister said the consumer choice should not be impaired in any manner and, in order to achieve this, government control or a regulator is not the answer. He added, "The proper way in this regard would be self-regulation."

Prasad also pointed to the glaring 'digital divide' in the developing countries more so in the Asia-Pacific region and said that there are sections of the society that are saturated with information while there are others, which are deprived of information.

He called upon the broadcasting organisations to take steps to remove this imbalance. In this regard, he emphasised the role of Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) because the private broadcasters are driven by commercial consideration. But, he said, PSBs need to focus on training, orientation, professionalism and human resource development.

Prasad regretted that the fast commercialization has driven the projection of development stories to the background. Dwelling on his pet theme, the minister said, "Development can also be displayed in a creative manner. If globalisation has to succeed and broadcasting to progress as a powerful medium, then development has to be the content. The media has to function as a vehicle of change".

Appreciating the role of AIBD in co-coordinating the development of broadcast media in the region, Prasad said that it is focused on human resource development and creating network with the governments. He pledged all support to AIBD in its endeavours.

Prasad also awarded three prizes for best Radio and TV programmes. The resident of the AIBD said on the occasion that the region has to take steps to formulate policies and regulations to keep pace with the fast developments in the broadcast field. Messages from the UN Secretary General Koffi Annan and UNESCO Director General were also read on the occasion.

About 75 delegates from the countries in the Asia-Pacific Region and representatives from several organizations like UNESCO, UNESCAP and Commonwealth Broadcasting Association are attending the session in India. The Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development with its headquarters at Kuala Lumpur is a unique regional inter-governmental organisation, servicing countries of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) in the field of electronic media development. The AIBD is mandated to achieve a vibrant and cohesive electronic media environment in the Asia-Pacific region through policy and resource development.

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