Tewari calls for separate regulator for broadcasting

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Manish Tewari, Minister for Information & Broadcasting
PTI Manish Tewari, Minister for Information & Broadcasting

Minister of Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari on Friday said it was time to have a separate “techno-commercial” regulator for the broadcasting sector. However, he clarified that the Government had no desire to control the content.

“These are not policy pronouncements but my personal view,” he said, on the sidelines of the first meeting of an expert committee on Prasar Bharati.

“The telecom space is huge and the telecom regulator TRAI has a lot on its plate. The broadcasting sector has also grown exponentially and has several issues….whether its TRPs (television rating points), media cross-holdings. I have myself made three-four references to TRAI…maybe it’s time to have a separate techno-commercial regulator for the sector,” he said, adding that the proposed authority should not look into content issues.

Addressing the expert committee, Tewari said that the Government was more than happy if the relationship between public broadcaster Prasar Bharati was similar to the relationship between CAG (the Government auditor) and the Ministry of Finance.

He said nearly two-thirds of the budget of the I&B Ministry went to Prasar Bharati, yet it was supposed to maintain an arm’s length.

The Minister said if the country needs a public broadcaster, it could be made directly accountable to Parliament, adding that the Government should then be given the liberty to have a full spectrum communication agency across print, online and television to put forward its point of view.

In January, the Ministry had constituted an expert committee under technocrat Sam Pitroda to review the institutional framework of Prasar Bharati, including its relationship with the Government, its continuing role as a public broadcaster and measures needed to ensure its technical upgradation.

(This article was published on April 5, 2013)
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