Broadcast Bill: Ficci to examine legal implications

NEW DELHI: A meeting on the draft Broadcast Bill 2006, which has been tormenting the media industry over the draconian clauses it contains, has decided that a core committee should be formed to examine legal implications of the proposed legislation.

Organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) here today, representatives of media organizations were unanimous on one issue: the draft Bill should be opposed; either partially or fully. learns after talking to various participants that Ficci would join issue with other apex media organizations to frame a representation to the government on issues bothering the media industry.

For example, while a representative of one media organisation opined that instead of opposing the Bill in its entirety only certain sections should be opposed, others felt that the whole Bill ought to be junked.

However, after sifting through various opinion it seems that participants were more worried over two issues --- cross media restrictions and government’s powers to crack down on TV channels, including news, for reports that it thinks are 'biased' and 'against' national interest.

Additionally, there were some discussions on the proposed mandating of 15 per cent of a week’s total programming to locally sourced content on TV channels and its merits and whether it makes sense for private broadcasters to air or fund a certain quantum of content categorized as public service broadcasting.

In the absence of any official communication --- the meeting was not open to general media reporters though the issues related to media in general --- it is also learnt that some cable operators did support the Bill partially, pointing out that the Indian broadcasting industry cannot do without any regulation and legislation.

Those who attended the meeting included Reliance’s Amit Khanna, Discovery India EVP and MD Deepak Shourie, Sony Entertainment Television India CEO Kunal Dasgupta, Zee Group’s Jawahar Goel, cable industry reps Rakesh Dutta and Roop Sharma, Moving Pictures’ chief Ramesh Sharma, a couple of media corporate lawyers and executives of ESPN Star Sports, Star India and the Times of India Group.

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