The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a series of recommendations on issues related to cross-media ownership. The objective of the recommendations is to ensure plurality of news and views and vertical integration.
The regulator in its recommendations noted that six years have elapsed without any concrete action being taken by the Government regarding issues affecting internal plurality. These recommendations inter alia specify barring of entry of political and religious bodies into the broadcast sector.
TRAI states, “The entities (political bodies, religious bodies, urban, local, Panchayati Raj, and other publicly funded bodies, Central and State Government ministries, departments, companies, undertakings, joint ventures, and Government-funded entities and affiliates) to be barred from entry into broadcasting and TV channel distribution sectors.”
The regulator made it clear that in case permission to such organisations has already been given, an appropriate exit route needs to be provided.
In the paper TRAI has also highlighted building a healthy relationship between public broadcaster Prasar Bharati and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The regulator said, “That the arm’s length relationship between Prasar Bharati and the government be further strengthened and that such measures should ensure functional independence and autonomy of Prasar Bharati.”
Taking a call on pending enactment of any new legislation on broadcasting specified disqualifications, for the entities from entering into broadcasting or TV channel distribution activities should be implemented through executive decision by incorporating the disqualifications into rules, regulations, and guidelines as necessary.