Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Friday said a separate ‘techno-commercial’ regulator be set up for the broadcasting sector as it had grown exponentially over the recent years.
Arguing for a separate body to manage issues relating to technical and commercial aspects of TV channels, Tewari said, at present these aspects were handled by the TRAI, which essentially is a telecom regulator and broadcast sector is never part of its remit.
The minister also wanted that public broadcaster Prasar Bharati to be made independent on the lines of the CAG, but at least the government should be allowed a platform where it could propagate its policies.
The minister went on to add a caveat saying that these were his personal views and not a policy statement more over the government does not want to regulate content.
“The government has no intention of putting a regulator in the statutory space...I am conversant with the TRAI Act and I find it a bit of oxymoron though some of my colleagues don’t agree that broadcasting was never supposed to be a part of the TRAI remit.... broadcasting has grown and expanded in such an exponential manner that maybe the time has come to look on the techno-commercial side - I underscore underline put in inverted commas - on the techno-commercial side the need for a separate broadcasting authority,” the minister said during the first meeting of Sam Pitroda-led committee set up for Prasar Bharati revamp.
“Parliamentarians in the past had made an important distinction between the freedom of press and the freedom of press ownership. I think that is something which requires the consideration...” he added.
“If the country needs a public broadcaster let it be answerable directly to Parliament as it is mandated in the Prasar Bharati Act, but the government should be given the liberty to have a full spectrum communication agency which could take its point of view in the public space,” he added.
His views assume significance as the government of the days have always come under criticism for misusing Doordarshan and AIR for their own political ends.
Even now, though the public broadcaster was independent, but the Information and Broadcasting Ministry held a sway over its functioning.