“Govt. should come up with clear, transparent security clearance guidelines:” Dr Subhash Chandra

MUMBAI: The growing number of television channels and the recent debate over the security clearance of Kalanithi Maran owned Sun TV Network has led the ‘Big Daddy’ of Indian television to come out and speak about ownership and security guidelines of the mushrooming channels.

Essel Group chairman Dr Subhash Chandra said, “From the beginning, I have been of the view, which I mentioned during the UPA 1 regime to Priyaranjan Das Munshi and Dr. Manmohan Singh that licences should not be issued without proper checks.”

According to Chandra, news channel licences should be scrutinized in the manner that the Reserve Bank of India scrutinizes applications before issuing any licence in financial service. “They go to the extent of finding out the ultimate source of funding as well as cleanliness of people involved and check them out before issuing licence,” he informed. 

Chandra has been actively speaking about having a strict and clear guideline before issuing licences from 2001-2006. “But because no one was listening to my point of view, I decided to then remain dormant and listen to the government’s point of view,” he laughed off. 

Ten days ago, Chandra had tweeted rather sensationally saying, “I will not be surprised if for some TV stations, the final money is coming from Dawood Ibrahim.” He feels that the system prevalent currently doesn’t go even one layer beyond what the person has submitted. 

The minimum amount required for starting a news channel today is Rs 5 crore. “As per the guidelines today, the check is done on the person submitting the money. No one tries finding out where the money is coming from. This is eroding our credibility as media,” he said.  

Chandra is of the opinion that the time has come to have strict, clear and transparent guidelines, which will expose the corporate veil and go to the real source of funding. “The government is not doing anything on the issue of media ownership and then says that all media is wrong,” he added. 

Pointing out that no one so far has debated on the issue, he said, “I want the debate to be triggered and then the decision can be taken collectively.”

Calling out to the government to check entities through clear guidelines, he said, “Those who are clean will come out clean, but the government hasn’t checked anyone. We are open to such scrutiny ourselves.”

Stressing on the fact that not having clear security guidelines compromises with the national and economic security, Chandra said, “I want to see clean money coming into the sector.”

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