Use of educational broadcasting channels should be via Prasar Bharati: TRAI

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has reiterated its earlier recommendations regarding further strengthening the maintenance of an arm's length relationship between Prasar Bharati and the government and ensuring functional independence and autonomy of Prasar Bharati.

TRAI said that the non-commercial use of direct-to-home by the central and state governments for educational purposes should be done through the Prasar Bharati route through suitable agreements between Prasar Bharati and the concerned central/ state governments.

Responding to a letter from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in this regard on 31 October last year, TRAI said Prasar Bharati should ensure that content dissemination through such non-commercial educational channels comply with the code and conduct of broadcasting established in India such as Programme code, AIR code etc. and the content disseminated through such channels should be such that it can form part of any regular Prasar Bharati channel.

As the transponder capacity is a scarce resource, the allocation of transponder capacity to central/state governments for running DTH educational channels on a non-commercial basis should be done in a very careful and judicious manner, said TRAI.

It should not lead to a situation where transponder capacity is kept idling on one hand when on the other hand service providers are kept waiting for the same, thereby adversely impacting the expansion and improvement of quality of their services.

The authority had given its recommendations to the government on the issues relating to entry of certain entities into broadcasting and distribution activities on 12 November 2008 and subsequently on 28 December 2012 in response to the references received from the Ministry. The original recommendations and the clarifications provided later clearly opposed the entry of central and state governments in the broadcasting and distribution activities. These recommendations of the authority were arrived at taking into consideration the relevant constitutional provisions, constituent assembly debates, judicial pronouncement of the Supreme Court, report of the Sarkaria Commission on Centre State Relations, international practices and the views of stakeholders.

The Ministry’s reference was about the use of a specific technology for a specific application by the central / state governments and ‘in essence boils down to enabling broadcasting/ distribution by the central and state governments.

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