The NDA government may be projecting its achievements through the India Shining campaign on the electronic media, but a final decision on permitting political parties to advertise on television and radio would be taken after a meeting between officials of the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry and the Election Commission.
Currently, the Cable Act and the licensing norms for FM radio do not permit advertising by political parties in the electronic media. But a judgment by the Andhra Pradesh High Court had earlier given a green signal to advertising on the electronic media.
"There are 100 channels in India; 22 of these are 24-hour news and current affairs channels..... Who will monitor political ads and whether these violate the Model Code of Conduct? We have sought guidelines from the EC on whether such advertising should be allowed..... I have asked the I&B Secretary, Mr Pawan Chopra, to meet EC officials on the issue," said Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, I&B Minister,
This is being done because there has been a drastic change in the media scenario. Earlier, the State-owned Doordarshan and All India Radio dominated the electronic media.
"The number of channels has boomed and it is no longer a primarily state controlled media. Sometimes, political parties control TV channels. There is cable operator monopoly. All these issues will be put before EC," said Mr Chopra.
The Election Commission will also be apprised about the Cable Television Regulation Act and the fact the private radio licenses specify no political party can advertise on them. "On AIR, each political party is allocated time but no such advertising is allowed under private radio licenses," Mr Chopra added.
Also, there is no clarity on whether the `India Shining' and `India on the Move' campaigns would continue after the modal code of conduct is implemented. On the eve of the Assembly elections in November, the EC had asked the Central Government to pull out the `India Shining' ads, but later allowed the campaign to carry on due to the Andhra Pradesh Court order.
Meanwhile, private FM radio companies have already made representations to the I&B Ministry seeking permission to allow them to carry ads of political parties. "We only want to be allowed to carry ads and not debates and discussions as these fall under news and current affairs categories," said an official from a private FM company.
The I&B Minister today released a pocketbook on the `Achievements of the NDA Government' and booklets on `NDA Government's Assistance various States'. He said that this is part of the I&B Ministry's drive to highlight the achievements of the Government.
"We want to build an image for India as this will also improve the investment climate of the country," he added.