The recent decision of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) of reviewing security clearance of television channels after every three years has not gone down well with the broadcast industry. Highly placed sources shared that the decision taken in response to a question by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) should not be implemented. A channel usually gets a license for 10 years from MHA to certify that the members of board of directors have a clean record.
Sources reveal that MIB had questioned MHA over pending applications of some channels. The issue was whether the clearances given some years ago to broadcast applicants would still be valid? MHA responded with a letter stating that the clearance given by the MHA will have a life span of three years. Most of the players broadcasting today received their clearances before 2010.
“It is a regressive step,” said a senior broadcaster. “The clearance is re-considered when there is a change in the board of directors in a company. If the change of directors is not acceptable to the ministry, they revoke the license. That is how it works. But there is no need for reframing the law. It would be repetitive and adding to the vows of the broadcasters who are facing several other industry issues,” he added.
KVL Naryan Rao, EVP, NDTV Group shared, “We are writing to the MHA to revoke the decision.” Other major broadcasters are also likely to follow suit.
Senior sources have also mentioned that the issue has come out of confusion and that the Ministry has already spoken to broadcasters.
On the other hand, few sources said that the Ministry wants to avoid a situation that will allow more news broadcasters before elections, and hence such a decision has been rolled.
A year of hardships: The broadcasting industry has seen too many developments and turbulences this year – from net vs. gross billings to TAM ratings fiasco and 10+2 ad cap to digitisation challenges. The MHA clearance issue is another development that has attracted criticism from the broadcasters.