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No state govt given permission to launch TV channels, says Rathore

MUMBAI: The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has said that it has not permitted any state government to launch a TV channel.

Replying to a question in Lok Sabha whether any state government has launched their own channels in regional languages or is in the process of launching one, Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that no state government has been permitted to launch a TV channel.

Last year, the MIB under then I&B minister Prakash Javadekar had rejected requests from the state governments of West Bengal and Punjab to enter into the broadcasting activities.

It is pertinent to note that the Tamil Nadu government-owned Arasu Cable TV Corporation’s application for digital addressable system (DAS) licence is also pending with the government. Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa has repeatedly urged the government to expedite the process of granting DAS licence to Arasu.

Sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had in its recommendations on cross-media ownership had reiterated its earlier stand that government or government-owned entities should not be allowed to enter into the business of broadcasting or distribution of television channels.

It had also maintained that in case permission has been granted to a government entity, an appropriate exit route must be provided in case permission has already been granted to any such organisation. It had also prescribed an arm’s-length relationship between Prasar Bharati and the government to ensure autonomy of the public broadcaster.

As recently as January 2015, TRAI had recommended that the non-commercial use of direct-to-home (DTH), by the central and state governments, for educational purposes should be done through the Prasar Bharati route, through suitable agreements between Prasar Bharati and the central/state governments concerned.