Govt mulling to refer surrogate ownership issue to TRAI:Tewari

Last Updated: Sun, Jan 13, 2013 08:54 hrs

Concerned over cases of "surrogate ownership" of broadcasting and distribution platforms by some political parties, government is planning to refer the matter to TRAI for its suggestions to carry out changes in the laws.

"I don't think it requires any rocket science to figure out that there is surrogate ownership of both broadcasting mediums, as well as distribution mediums across the length and breadth of this country," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told PTI.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has in its latest recommendations suggested that political entities should not be allowed to run television channels.

The present rules, however, do allow players like Gujarat BJP's cable channel NaMo Tv and other politically affiliated individuals to be active in this sector.

"Some of that surrogate ownership is ostensibly attributed to political parties or political entities. Some other is attributed to individuals. So there is definitely a play in the joints in so far as the legislative architecture or the law is concerned, and people have taken advantage of it," he said, while stressing for a need to update the laws governing this sector.

"As we speak, we are in the process of formulating a reference to the TRAI to see how comprehensively, the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1994 needs to be updated so that all this can be brought on board," he said.

The minister was responding to a query on government's stand regarding presence of political parties in the broadcasting sector.

Tewari also stressed on the need to relook the kind of relationship that should exist between the government and the public broadcaster in a "changed scenario", saying an "arm's length distance" between the two was not possible if the national broadcaster's funding was routed through the ministry.

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