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MIB granted 60 TV channel licences in 2015, highest in last three years

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s (MIB) dialogue with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on evolving a stable policy regime relating to security seems to have started bearing fruits. The MIB has granted 60 TV channel licences in 2015, thus surpassing the permissions issued in the last three years.

The ministry granted 53 uplinking permits and seven downlinking permits during the year. Until 31 December 2015, 847 channels were granted uplinking and downlinking permissions. Out of these, 52 per cent were news channels while the rest were non-news channels.

In the past year the MHA issued a sequence of instructions regarding grant of security clearance, its assessment, validity and reference for additional facility.

The MIB has been holding a dialogue with the MHA in order to evolve a stable policy regime that would ensure ease of business without diluting concern on security aspects.

The ministry has taken other important measures to bring transparency and accountability in granting licences. The open house meetings, conducted on the 20th of every month with broadcasters, have proved to be very useful, the MIB said.

While noting that the number of broadcasters attending these meetings has swelled over the last one year, the ministry said that the feedback from the meetings has helped it to take new initiatives for expediting clearances and bringing more transparency.

Several issues concerning new and permitted TV channels, teleports, use of SNG/DSNG vans, temporary uplinking cases, change of satellites, change of name and logo, change in the shareholding pattern, induction of new directors, FIPB approvals, etc. are being discussed in an open and fair manner with broadcasters, MIB said.

These meetings have not only provided an opportunity to applicants for a direct interaction with ministry officials but also facilitated flow of information directly to applicants, thereby eliminating the need to have an intermediary. Additionally, the direct interaction has built confidence in the system and has reduced dependence on unnecessary correspondence and phone calls, the MIB added.

In order to fast-track the approvals, the ministry now sends the proposals to the MHA, DOS and CA simultaneously from the INSAT section itself within 10 days without waiting for approvals at this stage, thus cutting delays significantly.

On the cable TV side, the ministry granted 676 MSO licences until 27 January 2016. Out of these, 445 MSOs were granted provisional registrations while the rest got permanent registrations.

In May 2015, the MHA had informed the MIB that security clearance is not required for MSOs. Since the cable rules make security clearance a mandatory requirement for issue of MSO registration, until these are amended with the concurrence of MHA, applicants have been asked to submit request with affidavit for issue of provisional registration.

The Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC), which is monitoring as many as 400 TV channels, is likely to monitor 600 TV channels.

As per the 12th Plan Scheme ‘Strengthening of Electronic Media Monitoring Centre’, the capacity of EMMC will be augmented to achieve the objective of monitoring 1,500 channels during 2012–17. To implement the plan, the ministry has approved a funding of Rs 90 crore (Rs 900 million).

In addition, a centralised monitoring mechanism in EMMC will be set up for FM channels and community radio stations (CRS).

Currently, EMMC monitors content of satellite TV channels with respect to violation of Programme and Advertising Codes enshrined under Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995. It also monitors private FM channels with respect to the licence conditions and quality of content.