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Three state govts proposed to enter broadcasting business

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has received proposals from Gujarat, Karnataka and Delhi legislative assemblies for getting into broadcasting activities.

This was revealed by the Minister of State in the MIB Rajyavardhan Rathore in the Lok Sabha.

However, Rathore did not answer what action the government took in response to these proposals. He merely said that “policymaking is a dynamic process that may be reviewed from time to time”.

He, however, gave broad indications on which side of the fence the government stands. Rathore stated that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its recommendations dated 12 November 2008 on ‘Issues relating to entry of certain entities into broadcasting and distribution activities’ had said that state governments and urban and local bodies, panchayati raj bodies, political and religious bodies should not be allowed to enter broadcasting business, including distribution of TV channels.

The authority further recommended that the aspirations of the state governments as regards broadcasting could be adequately met by Prasar Bharati through its existing regional framework.

In continuation of these recommendations, TRAI on 20 December 2012 again recommended that central/state ministries and departments, central/state government-owned companies, central/state government undertakings, joint ventures of state/central government and central/state government-funded entities should not be allowed to enter the business of broadcasting and/or distribution of TV channels.

The Karnataka government is reportedly planning to set up a cable TV distribution platform similar to Arasu Cable TV Corporation. The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government is planning to launch a television channel on the lines of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV to cover the proceedings of the Delhi Assembly live. The Punjab government, on the other hand, is planning to launch a television channel named ‘Vidya TV’.

In July last year, Rathore stated that the government had not permitted any state government to launch a TV channel. The MIB under Rathore’s predecessor Prakash Javadekar had rejected requests from the state governments of West Bengal and Punjab to enter the broadcasting activities.

The government has not granted digital addressable system (DAS) licence to Tamil Nadu government’s Arasu Cable TV Corporation. The corporation’s application for DAS licence is pending with the government despite repeated plea by Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa.

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