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MIB mulls national b'cast policy to ease stakeholders' woes

MIB also aligning its FDI norms with that of Commerce Ministry

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NEW DELHI: India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is exploring formulating a national broadcast policy or NBP with an aim to ease lengthy and time consuming government processes that media and entertainment industry players have to go through while conducting their businesses.

According to MIB secretary Amit Khare, his ministry is also formulating the internal FDI policy to align the overall framework with that of the Commerce Ministry. The government had liberalised investment norms for many sectors, including media and entertainment, in 2016, and later dismantled Foreign Investment Promotion Board too making sectoral nodal ministries responsible for greenlighting FDI proposals.   

“The media and entertainment sector should grow in a way that has less hurdle and more motivation,” Khare said here yesterday while addressing the concluding day audience at the CII Big Picture Summit 2018.

Expanding on the NBP, Khare said government was exploring ways to ease processes, including a rethink on existing regulations for India’s M&E sector, which, not only has clocked impressive growth, but is also a big generator of employment for people. A new DTH policy, which is in the offing, is an indicator of the government's thought process.

Admitting that regulation has failed to keep pace with changing technologies, the senior government official said, “Regulating everything is not desirable and even if desirable, it may not always be feasible.”

However, he did not elaborate on the government’s thought process on content regulation for the digital space that’s fast becoming home to bold themes and bolder content if compared to traditional media of print and television.

Pointing out that the government faced challenges while formulating policies or reviewing existing ones, Khare gave the example of expanding outlets for distribution of content that now, according to him, can be created practically by anyone with newer digital platforms offering creators enough number of outlets to showcase such creations.

“In such a scenario, policy reforms [become] a little difficult,” Khare said, adding that the present government, however, was keen to review irksome government processes and clearances without being the “monitor” to mind a “grown-up” industry like media.

Dwelling further on technology and the transformation it was bringing about in society, in general, Khare said MIB was in talks with regulator TRAI and BECIL to hold workshops to explore actively how broadband services could be delivered via existing cable TV networks to approximately 40 million households that presently don’t have internet facilities.

Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited or BECIL, a government organisation under the ambit of MIB, provides project consultancy services and turnkey solutions encompassing the entire gamut of radio and television broadcast engineering.

Later speaking to the media on the sidelines of the event, Khare said consultations will start with industry stakeholders on the formulation of NBP, but refused to give a time frame of it being legislated into some form of a policy document or guidelines.

Info Tech Minister advocates robust digital measurement norms

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp have changed the manner in which users consume content and communicate with each other, but the social media platforms need to be mindful of "certain dos and don'ts" and guard against any misuse of their platforms, Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Friday.

Speaking at the CII Big Picture Summit, Prasad said that social media platforms' large focus on India underscored the sheer size and opportunities presented by the market here.

"Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and WhatsApp are coming to India not only because they are giving some service. India offers a robust market, by its sheer size. I always say, come do business, but remember certain dos and don'ts...you must follow," Prasad said.

The minister said that social media firms should also guard against any potential misuse of their platforms. In particular, these "public platforms" must not be misused by those with wrong intentions for the purpose of exploitation and denigration of others, he said.

Outlining India's rising digital clout on the back of its large smartphone user base, strong IT outsourcing industry, electronic manufacturing capabilities and biometric programme Aadhaar, the minister asserted that the country will never barter its digital sovereignty and is, in fact, bringing a strong data protection law to safeguard its digital information.

The right of accessing the internet is "not negotiable" and if the internet is designed for common good, it should be safe and secure, he added.

He also called for a robust mechanism for measuring the ratings of digital platforms.

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