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Govt may jam hostile propaganda through media — Monitoring body to come under Home Ministry

18-March-2005
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Govt may jam hostile propaganda through media — Monitoring body to come under Home Ministry

The Home Ministry jammers are likely to be activated to put an end to hostile television and radio broadcasts.

To have a more effective screening of propaganda against the national interest, the Government has decided to move the Central Monitoring Service (CMS) to the Home Ministry from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B).

According to top Government sources, the decision to shift the CMS to Home Ministry was mooted because the Government had security concerns. "It was felt that the intelligence wings of the Home Ministry such as RAW would be in a better position to monitor these channels. They would also be able to jam the channels which have been broadcasting hostile content," they said.

The security concern has become important due to the large number of channels that are available currently in the country. "With direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting set to take off in a big way, households will be able to access hundreds of channels. Hence, it is essential to keep a watch on these channels," they added.

From next month onwards, the CMS facility as well as the equipment at the outskirts of Delhi would be taken over by the Home Ministry.

The CMS was set up by the British in 1937 to track news broadcasts across the world. However after Independence, the cell was mainly servicing the External Affairs and Home Ministries.

Subsequently, the previous National Democratic Alliance Government used the CMS to monitor obscene content on television channels after consumer complaints.

The Government in the recent past blocked channels such as Fashion TV, Ren TV and some "objectionable" commercials. However, now with the intelligence wing of the Government taking over, it is unclear how the I&B Ministry would monitor pornographic content.

While the I&B Ministry has made it clear that it is not in favour of censorship of television shows and serials, an autonomous regulator to monitor content is being planned. The broadcasting industry is in favour of exercising restraint and self-regulation on the quality of programmes being aired by them.

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