Regulators

Why can't pvt FM channels have news, SC asks govt

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has asked the government to explain the continuing prohibition on FM radio stations and community radios from airing news and current affairs at par with private TV channels and the print media.

The observation by the chief justice of India J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud came on a public interest litigation filed in 2013 by Common Cause, and the Court asked why the government wanted to control news on radio, which covers almost the entire population including the rural masses.

The court directed the government to explain in four weeks the series of orders passed between 2008 and 2013 preventing private radio from airing their own news and current affairs broadcasts.

The government’s prohibition, Common Cause argued, was in clear violation of the Supreme Court’s landmark verdict in 1995 in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting vs Cricket Association of Bengal when the court had held that “airwaves are public property to be used to promote public good and expressing a plurality of views, opinions and ideas”. That judgment had led to the passing of the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act 1995.

Common Cause counsel Prashant Bhushan and Kamini Jaiswal said that policy Guidelines and of the Grant of Permission Agreements framed by the government which prohibit private FM radio stations and community radio stations from broadcasting their own news and current affairs programmes clearly violate the fundamental right of the freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution.

For more details: Why can private FM channels not have their own news bulletins, Supreme Court asks Govt.

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