Senior IAS officer, Sunil Arora, has been named the new secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. He will be succeeding Bimal Julka, whose tenure will end on Monday, 31 August, 2015.
Arora’s appointment comes at a time when MIB is in the midst of several important developments, including the Phase III FM radio e-auctions and digitisation of phase III and IV.
We take a look at some of the key challenges that new secretary will face in his new role.
Foreign Direct Investment is one of the most important factors the new secretary will have to encounter. The issue has been debated time and again. Last year in July, TRAI gave its nod to increase FDI in news media from 26 % to 49 %. Broadcasters and publishers welcomed the move. But as of now there has been no execution.
Though government has cleared two proposals for FDI in media, four proposals were deferred in May this year for Today Magazines and Star India. However, News media is still untouched.
10+2 AD CAP
In a much contented matter that awaits resolution, GECs are almost following the ad cap rule, but news channels have already declared that until the subscription model comes in, it’s not possible for them to implement the ad cap. The matter is in High Court and the court has asked the broadcasters to keep a record of their ad breaks and send it to TRAI.
The functioning of Prasar Bharati
Although the public broadcaster has been given its own reigns as well as autonomy, government intervention has been observed in many decisions. We have seen many a cases in the past and some of the recent ones are appointment of DG Veena Jain, Amitabh Bachchan’s campaign for DD Kisan, funds allocation for Prasar Bharati.
DAS Phase III
In 2012 the government woke to the fact that digitisation was an idea whose time has come and implemented it to metros but unfortunately the government is still lagging in DAS phase III. The deadline has been pushed for another year. This decision gave broadcasters a huge blow and now the secretary needs to complete the DAS Phase III without exceeding the deadline which is December 2015.
FM Radio Auction III
After a long delay, government started the radio auction for phase III. The auction is currently under way and at the close of the 25th day of bidding, 94 channels in 56 cities became provisional winning channels with cumulative provisional winning price of about Rs 1147 crore against their aggregate reserve price of about Rs 459 crore. The successful actualisation of the auctions and its handling eventual implications in tier 2 cities will remain a challenge for the secretary.