M&E industry to meet I&B Minister next week

MUMBAI: After the mammoth election, the new BJP-led NDA government took charge on 26 May and since then, the new Information & Broadcasting Minister, Prakash Javadekar, has been a busy man. From attending press conferences and ceremonies to meeting the various stakeholders, he has been on the move since he took the oath.

The Minister has been vocal about his thoughts on what he expects from the industry and what needs to be done. On day one itself, he had announced his commitment towards freedom of press and there is no intention of regulating the media. This has given new hopes to the media industry which is currently caught-up in policy hurdles, implementation delays and controversies.

As per industry sources, the Minister will be meeting the various associations of the Media & Entertainment industry together early next week.

Though the dates aren’t clear yet and so is the agenda, but the various sources have hinted upon the following topics which will be discussed over the table.

Digitisation - With the phase I & II over and III & IV in the pipeline, it will be one of the hot topic. The Minister, couple of days back had said that in a step to boost employment and small-scale industry, efforts will be made to encourage indigenisation of set-top boxes. The stakeholders could also discuss carriage fees, opportunities in the DTH and how digitisation can help broadcasters.

Licences – More the merrier has been the slogan for large media houses. With more and more channels being launched by networks, many pending licence files have been gathering dust in the numerous Ministry offices.

FDI – The Ministry is already looking for inputs from various stakeholders on whether to allow 100 per cent FDI in News media. Currently, the FDI allowed is up to 26 per cent in news and current affairs media, while 100 per cent is allowed in non-news media like trade publications and entertainment channels.

Way forward – The industry has been in a limbo for a long say highly placed industry sources who are betting that the new Minister will be able to hurry up things and set a positive tone for the coming years.

“The meeting is all about the big picture. Everyone has been wanting to meet the new Minister and discuss the grievances and hurdles they face,” says a source who believes a little pep talk and a push is needed to take things in a positive trend.

Agreeing, another industry source adds, “Everyone will come with their own wish list in a hope to get things to work in their benefit and economically do better than what it has been doing so far.”

One thing is clear that in the meeting set to be held early next week, the new I&B Minister will have his platter full, with M&E industry handing him a checklist.

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