Planning Commission to identify broader areas for policy review

NEW DELHI: The information and broadcasting ministry may have had reservations about convergence of the infotech, broadcasting and telecom sectors, but a section of the government feels that may be the only way forward.

The Planning Commission, a government think-tank on economic policies has recently set up a co-ordination committee on information, communication and broadcasting technologies. The agenda: to identify broader areas for policy review.

This initiative, undertaken earlier this month, is part of mid-term appraisal of the 10th Five-Year Plan (2002-07).

The terms of reference of the newly set-up committee are to look into the following issues:

Conditional access system and the use of SMS in the broadcasting sector,

Rural connectivity and deployment of wireless technologies in the last mile,

Broadband and its benefits for the masses,

Facilitating Internet penetration,

ICT (information, communication and technology)-based reforms in the postal sector,

Postman-based electronic mail and e-mail with latency.

Societal applications for IT,

Optimum use of spectrum and principles of spectrum allocation and management,

R&D in the convergent technologies.



The committee is headed by minister of state (planning) MV Rajashekharan and comprises Planning Commission secretary RR Shah, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman Pradip Baijal, Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma and secretaries in the I&B ministry, department of telecom and department of post, amongst others.

A Planning Commission order relating to this states that the tenure and time frame of the Coordination Committee shall be determined in accordance with the time schedule of preparation of the mid-term appraisal document of the 10th Five-year Plan.

It may be mentioned here that the Planning Commission does make important recommendations on various issues, which need not necessarily be accepted by the government. But such studies and recommendations do indicate the thought process of the government.

Over a year back, a Planning Commission panel had stated that there was a need to review various foreign investment caps, including in the DTH broadcasting sector. However, the government of the day had not taken up the suggestion with the seriousness it could have been to increase foreign investments in the country, which lags behind that made in China.

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