Financial autonomy of pubcaster essential: Reddy

NEW DELHI: Union minister for information and broadcasting Jaipal Reddy said that financial autonomy of public broadcaster was essential for giving true autonomy to Doordarshan and All-India Radio and suggested that public opinion be built up regarding new sources of funding of the organisations like a one-time fee on radio and TV sets in the country.

With nearly two third of expenditure being funded by the government, it was not possible to stop government intervention, he said.

Speaking at a seminar on "A Decade of Citizen's Initiative " organised by Jan Prasar, he said all non-governmental organisations and academicians engaged in the field of mass-communication should come forward and work towards creating an enabling environment conducive for creating of model in which financial autonomy of Prasar Bharati can be ensured.

He said during his last tenure in the I&B ministry, he had worked towards a bill aimed at annual licence fee, which was criticised by manufacturers of television sets. He said financial autonomy to Prasar Bharati was essential to take it out of governmental control.

Reddy also felt that there was a need to set up a semi-governmental organisation to regulate content on TV.

Reddy also announced that Prasar Bharati was all set to launch its KU-band DTH service later this month that will initially have 30 channels, including 14 channels of Doordarshan. The number of channels would go to 40 by yearend.

The main feature of DTH service is that it will be available to the people free of cost. They will have to make one-time investment of Rs 3,000 only for buying the set.

On future of FM and community radio, the minister said a regime enabling huge expansion was being worked out. Efforts were on to simplify and rationalise procedures in allowing setting up of community radio. He said the country could have up to 4,000 community radio stations and over 400 FM radio stations.

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