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MIB awarded 177 TV licences in the last two years: Ajay Mittal

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) awarded 177 new television channel licences in the last two years in addition to 164 new FM channels in 103 cities, I&B Secretary Ajay Mittal said today during his special address at the FICCI Frames 2017 underlining the growth in the broadcasting sector.

Mittal also said that the broadcasting sector had shown strong growth on the back of initiatives like cable TV digitisation.

Ajay Mittal Ajay-Mittal-ficci-2017Mittal noted that the FM radio was still an untapped opportunity and the government would go ahead with more auctions. “Two phases of FM auction have taken place with 164 new channels and as many as 103 cities have got licences, and we are going ahead with that because we feel this is one area where the potential still hasn’t been tapped adequately,” he added.

Mittal also said that the government would work with the stakeholders to enhance the ease of doing business in India. He cited the decisions to increase the foreign direct investment (FDI) limits in the broadcasting sector and removing sectoral restrictions as some of the bold moves towards fulfilling this objective.

The government is also focusing on creating suitable kids content. “We are giving special attention to the creation of suitable content for kids so that it brings them closer to values of a great nation like ours,” Mittal said.

The 18th edition of FICCI Frames, the annual congregation of media and entertainment industry professionals, got underway in Mumbai today, with a call to formulate policies that would unlock the full potential of the Rs 1.2-lakh-crore sector.

Mittal said that, given India’s cultural diversity and rich heritage and the abundance of talent, content creation was not an issue but the focus needed to be on distribution and monetisation. He also said that the M&E industry was expected to grow at double the rate of GDP growth.

The MIB secretary said that the establishment of the Film Facilitation Office in NFDC Delhi had helped in providing single-window clearance for film shooting in India. He said that shooting of 41 films was facilitated by FFO last year.

Mittal also informed that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had approved the new ‘Film Visa’ category, which would go a long way in removing entry-related delays. He said that, to promote competition among the states regarding film shooting, the MIB had introduced the Most Film Friendly State award carrying Rs 1 crore prize money.

Speaking about censorship, Mittal said the recommendations of the Shyam Benegal Committee were being studied by the government and a decision would be taken soon.

Earlier, Star India CEO and chairman of the FICCI Entertainment Committee Uday Shankar had expressed strong concern over creative freedom being curbed not only by the institutions but also by external bodies and fringe elements exercising vigilante censorship. He said, “The spirit of creativity is to push boundaries, but creative minds are being forced to self-censor”.

Echoing similar views, film-maker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra called for abolition of censorship altogether to be replaced by age group-wise certification as suggested by the Benegal Committee.

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