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Directors of existing TV channels don’t need MHA clearance for new licences

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has said that applicants for new TV channels whose directors have already received security clearance will not have to apply for fresh approval from the ministry of home affairs (MHA).

The ministry, however, said that this will apply to those applicants who have filed within the validity period of security clearance. It has also said that a copy of each cleared application would be sent to the MHA for its record and information.

The ministry noted that the entire process of grant of permission has slowed down considerably, a view that also came across on many industry platforms and open house meetings.

Earlier in January, the MHA under UPA government had acceded to the I&B ministry’s request to provide security clearance to broadcasters for the entire duration of their licence period, which is 10 years.

While the security clearance was made ‘co-terminus’ with the licence, the existing companies will still need the MHA approval for a new channel or for a new director they are adding to the board.

In October last year, the issue came up when the I&B ministry asked the MHA on the expiry date of the security clearance given to broadcasting companies. The MHA had replied that the validity was only for three years.

The broadcasters raised concerned and the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) made a representation to the I&B ministry urging it to reconsider the decision. The NBA said that the limiting of validity of security clearance will be detrimental to the business of broadcasters.

The I&B ministry then wrote to the MHA suggesting that the security clearance should be made valid for the entire duration of the licence, which is 10 years.