Television

I&B minister wants the industry to define self-regulation levels

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NEW DELHI: Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari has said the process of mainstreaming self-regulation as a statutory mechanism should be led by the industry and not the government.

Speaking at a panel discussion on Media Regulation: Is status quo the option?, the minister emphasised that the government's approach towards the media was an 'essay in persuasion not regulation'.

The stakeholders within the industry would have to define the equilibrium levels to ensure that the paradigm of transparency, fairness, sobriety and avoidance of sensationalism becomes the key driver of the national discourse in the media space, Tewari stated.

He said digitisation as a process could be leveraged to augment sample sizes by re-engineering every Set Top box to function as a virtual people's meter. Out of the box innovation and creative thinking by media entrepreneurs could surmount the current challenges by a technological leap that could transform the dynamics at the back end of the media sector. Industry could then utilise the data and develop business models that were transparent and workable.

This process would ensure an alternative to the ongoing conflict surrounding TAM / TRP that the Broadcasting industry held responsible for much of its woes. He emphasised that the way forward was also to fast track Broadcasting Audience Research Council (BARC) as an industry led body that would provide a reliable measurement of popular viewership patterns and help broadcasters overcome corrosive narratives.

The minister also referred to the growing importance of the new media space which had revolutionised the media landscape. The growth of the internet had led to a situation where there could be a conflict between the physical and virtual civilisation. It was important to comprehend the fact that the power of expression and dissemination through the internet had added a new dimension to innovations in information dissemination. While the opening up of the virtual space had led to democratization of the information paradigm, it had also led to technology becoming a leveller.

Tewari added that these developments could also lead to a situation where one could also face "Balkanization of the Internet" if agreed rules of international engagement did not emerge as a binding international compact that encompassed states and other entities who controlled the underlying hardware. This situation needed to be avoided at all costs so as to ensure that no artificial divisions are created in the World Wide Web on ideological entities and Westphalian lines.

The minister also discussed critical paradoxes within the media space that would need to be reconciled. These included proliferation of numerous mediums of communication as qua a growing intolerance to an opposite viewpoint, right to a fair trial qua trial by the media, presence of flawed revenue models qua questionable methods of revenue augmentation, TRP qua the truth and the raging debate between self regulation and statutory regulation.

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