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No delays in Convergence Bill: Sushma Swaraj

23-December-2000
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No delays in Convergence Bill: Sushma Swaraj

Information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj today dismissed suggestions that the Convergence/Communications Bill was getting delayed, saying there was “hardly any convergence” in the country as yet.

Pointing out that less than one per cent of convergence has happened in the country as of now, the minister said, “Convergence is a priority... but we do not want haphazard laws like in cable. We are formulating the (convergence) laws quite early. There is absolutely no delay.”

The minister admitted that it was yet to be decided which ministry will be the administrative ministry as and when the convergence laws are formalised. The ministries involved here include those of information and broadcasting, communications and information technology.

She refused to divulge any details about the changes suggested by a group of ministers on convergence in the draft bill, saying these were yet to be discussed by the group.

The bill, which was to be introduced in the current session, has now been deferred to the budget session.

Asked about the conditional access system (CAS), which would give cable TV viewers a choice of channels as also interactivity to cable operators, Swaraj said the Prasar Bharati chief executive and special secretary in the I&B ministry, RR Shah, would soon have a meeting with cable operators on the issue.

She also said the law ministry was likely to clarify soon whether the CAS could be allowed through a notification or had to be cleared by Parliament. Swaraj also clarified that the 20 per cent equity cap on broadcasting/cable company in a KU-band direct-to-home TV venture in the country is a sectoral cap and the final guidelines is likely to be finalised by month-end.

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