I&B Secretary S K Arora on Thursday assured CII’s Media Committee that a concept note on the draft Broadcast Services Regulatory Bill would be circulated for getting the views of the media industry as inputs to the government’s decision-making process. Arora stressed that the provisions in the proposed Bill were designed to facilitate the industry’s growth, and not to micro-manage its functioning.
Interacting with members of CII’s National Media Committee, Arora made it clear that the intension of the draft Bill was to provide legislative backing to executive decisions taken by the government in recent times. This backing was required because most of the executive decisions had been challenged in court, and the government had been asked to show legislative sanction for its actions.
A second purpose, said Arora, was to create an independent Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI), which would take over the regulatory functions of the government; the intention being to get the government away from the job of regulating the industry.
A third objective of the draft Bill was to subsume the existing Cable Network Regulations Act that governs the cable industry. Responding to the expression of concern about broadcasting companies being subjected to draconian measures, the I&B Secretary said that this was a legitimate concern. The government had not yet taken a final view and the industry’s concerns would be taken into account, he added.
Arora further clarified that the content regulation rules, which were in the process of being framed by the Ministry, were not part of the broadcast legislation. He said that there would be a full consultation process with all stakeholders, and the intention was to encourage self-regulation with regard to content.
He added that industry inputs would also be obtained with regard to provisions in the draft Bill relating to cross-media ownership restrictions.
The interaction with the Secretary was chaired by CII National Media Committee Chairman and Editor and Publisher, Business Standard, T N Ninan. Others who attended the meeting included Jawahar Goel, Group Vice Chairman, Zee Network; Peter Mukherjea, CEO, STAR Group India; Deepak Shourie, MD, Discovery Channel India; Aroon Purie, Editor-in-Chief, India Today; H K Dua, Editor-in-Chief, The Tribune; Tarun Katial, COO, Adlabs Radio; Preet Dhupar, Director, BBC Worldwide; and Narayan Rao, Director, NDTV.