Tasks for the new I&B Minister

28 May,2014

 

When news came in late last week that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was keen on integrating similar ministries, I expected the progressive, media and more importantly one of the most digitally savvy politicians in the country, to integrate the ministries of I&B, telecom and I&T. While each may have areas that need special attention, there is need to look at communication of all kinds in a focussed manner.

 

Prakash Javdekar was appointed Minister of State with independent charge of information and broadcasting. But along with that he was given charge of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. Also shared charge of Parliamentary Affairs. One learns that environment etc will be taken away as and when someone suitable is found.

 

Here are 10 things that we would like Minister Javadekar to achieve in his tenure:

 

#1 Only self-regulation

Successive governments are known to tinker with the content freedom for news and current affairs, TV fiction and advertising. One hopes that Mr Javdekar will not succumb to these pressures and like Ambika Soni will keep all the sensitive souls at bay.

 

#2 Ban paid content

It’s a toughie and very difficult to police, but if the BJP is keen on rooting out corruption then it must wipe out all forms of paid content. It may mean taking on the big and mighty in media, but it’s got to be done.

 

#3 Don’t interfere in Doordarshan and All India Radio

Doordarshan will celebrate its 55th anniversary this year, but is a sleepy giant. And All India Radio is a forgotten one. Sadly, both entities reach out to more people in the country than all the private channels. The government must allow them to run independently and allow them to run without commercial pressures.

 

#4 Push for news on FM Radio.

There are a countless news channels and even more cable TV set-ups so one really doesn’t understand why news on FM is not allowed. By insisting on only AIR news to be carried is pointless. The minister must allow news on FM radio and let the medium flourish.

 

#5. Clear the mess on distribution

The TRAI has had to work overtime on distribution and the previous regime did some good work on digitization though with some mess in execution in between. The entire country is not digitized yet, so the minister needs to push things there. Then there is the issue of carriage fees which continues to be a matter of dispute between broadcasters and distributors

 

06. New rules of social media

Given that the social media has seen an explosion in the last five years, UPA-2 saw it embroiled in a few controversies around the social media and whether or not it should be policed. While there can be no denying the fact that one can’t condone defamation and unfair practices online in the name of freedom of expression, the government would do well to exercise caution before taking any action.

 

07. Don’t get bullied by Big Media

The problem with every successive government is that they buckle under pressure from the big media players. Whether it’s on DAVP rates or land at lower rates, the government would do well to ensure a level playing field for all media entities

 

08. Promote low budget films

The multiple and television revolution has helped the lot of film-makers who do not have access to big money. The government must do its bit to help in supporting those without access to big monies

 

09. Content on telecom

While we do not like the government to interfere in industry, it must ensure that content providers get their due from telecom players who have ensured that they keep the lion’s share of revenues

 

10. Leave the business alone!

Measurement, 10+2 ad cap, regulation… all issues that the I&B ministry has been busy with over the last few years. These should be best left to the industry players and associations. No need for the government to poke its nose

 

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