Government not forcing regulator on broadcast media: Swarup


NEW DELHI: Ministry for information and broadcasting secretary Asha Swarup today reiterated the fact that the government had no intention of forcing checks on broadcasters in the country and that the aim of the Broadcast Regulatory Authority Bill (BRAI) was only to set up an independent regulator.

She also denied reports that there was any proposal under the proposed Bill or Content Code to bar television channels from conducting sting operations. However, the aim was to ensure that there was no violation of the right of privacy of any individual, as had been seen in some sting operations.

Swarup was delivering the keynote address at the Indian News Television Summit organised by in the capital. The day-long meet culminating with the NT (News Television) Awards in the evening has been endorsed by the ministry.

The secretary expressed optimism that the Broadcast Bill would be introduced in Parliament during the monsoon session. She said incorrect reports about the Bill in the media only resulted in more delays in finalizing the draft of the legislation.

She said in reply to a question that the public service broadcaster Prasar Bharati would also be brought under the ambit of the Bill.

Both the legislation and the Code were being drawn up keeping in view the sensitivities of the Indian viewer, she said. It was therefore in the interest of the industry that there should be a Bill and a Regulator who is independent and impartial.

She urged private news channels to share the duty of the public service broadcaster by showing some public service programming. There was need for more positive stories which could motivate people. 

She noted that there were almost 90 to 100 news channels in the country if one counted all regional channels and those that have news bulletins. There had been an annual growth of 18 per cent in the television industry. But all this gave rise to the basic question - what kind of news do Indians deserve?

She also said that while there was need for news channels to show care and sensitivity while presenting news, she said accuracy and impartiality should also not be given a go-by. She said that there was also need to help in the maintenance of public order. Repetitive telecasts of old clips of violence only sent out wrong messages. 

Answering a question after her presentation, she said that the Content Code was being shown to representatives of associations of various stakeholders on 20 July and would then be finalised for being put on the ministry site for eliciting the views of people.

Earlier, CEO and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari said that the future of the television industry was very bright with more entrepreneurs getting into the industry, both in India and overseas. He announced that would be organizing a Digital Summit in October. editorial director Thomas Abraham said in a presentation that news channels had earned Rs 9.8 billion as revenue from advertisements during 2006-07. He said that this was expected to go up to Rs 12.5 billion this year. India today had 116 million television homes of which 75 million were connected to cable and satellite.

Asking if the news broadcasters were being able to reach out to specific genres and segments, he observed that news has to be more interactive and has to find ways to reach out to all communities.

In a presentation giving the Citizen's Voice, ICICI Bank executive director V Vaidyanathan said that a total of 51.9 million mobiles were being added every year and one in every Indian today owned a personal computer. And now people were taking to web phones. Growth was no longer an option, it just had to happen. He said that communication methodologies were changing both for the urban and the rural Indian.

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