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Arun Jaitley’s portfolio as I&B minister had many gems

He was responsible for introducing Film Facilitation Office

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MUMBAI: Former union minister and one of the most senior and popular BJP veterans, Arun Jaitley died earlier this morning. He was undergoing treatment at AIIMS Delhi for the past several weeks.

A lawyer by profession, Jaitley had quite a prolific career as a politician as well. He held several posts in the union ministry under the BJP government, including minister of information and broadcasting, minister of law, justice, and company affairs & shipping, and minister finance.

The veteran will be remembered as a strong politician and policymaker for his contribution to the ministry of finance as well, which he led in the previous Modi government. The stalwart was lauded by the cable television industry when he exempted custom duty in several parts and components of electronic equipment including set-top boxes (STBs) for television or the internet, thus boosting the digitisation process for the TV industry.

In his term as the union minister of information and broadcasting between November 2014 and July 2016, Jaitley was responsible for many important government initiatives, including phase III of FM auctions, new business policy for publications divisions 2016, setting up of Film Facilitation Office (FFO), and introducing revised guidelines for advertisements in print and on websites.

The FFO, which acts as a single-window facilitation and clearance mechanism for filmmakers, was constituted with a view to promote and facilitate film shootings by foreign filmmakers in India. The services rendered by the FFO were later extended to Indian filmmakers as well. The body also gives out ‘Most Film Friendly State’ awards every year with the aim of promoting India as a filmmaking destination.

Under his leadership, a new business policy for Publications Division with the objective to streamline business practices in line with the contemporary trends prevailing in publications industry was also set up. One of the key highlights of the policy included promoting online readership by pricing the digital version of the publication at 75 per cent the price of printed version.

Jaitley also worked on promoting transparency and accountability in advertisement policies. The new print media advertisement policy introduced incentives for the newspapers who have better professional standing and get their circulation verified by ABC/ RNI among other important measures taken to streamline the print advertising paradigm.

He also focussed greatly on the growth of the digital ecosystem within the country during his tenure and revised the web advertising policy as well.

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