The Center has advised the Union ministries, state governments and Union Territories (UTs) not to participate directly in broadcasting activities and go only through Prasar Bharati.
The advice, issued on October 21 and distributed to all secretaries of various ministries and ministries, secretaries of state and UT administrators, says: future broadcasting/distribution of broadcasting activities.”
It added that if any of these entities are already broadcasting the content, “it will be through the public broadcaster”. And where these entities are already distributing the broadcasting content, they must pull themselves out of the distribution business by December 31, 2023, the consultancy said.
The move is likely to affect the broadcasting activities of several state-run media outlets, including some operating in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is the node ministry for everything that has to do with broadcasting. The official announcement stated: “According to Article 246 of the Constitution, only the Ministry can legislate on these issues.”
It was in 2012 that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the broadcasting regulatory body, had suggested that the central and state governments, their affiliated entities, corporations, joint ventures with the private sector and government-funded entities should not be allowed to enter the broadcasting sector.
The consultancy noted that the recommendations of the TRAI have been taken into consideration by the Ministry of I&B. In this regard, the opinion that TRAI drew on the spirit of the Sarkaria Commission’s recommendations and the Supreme Court’s comment that “state control really means state control, which in turn means control over the political party or parties that are provisionally subject to state control.” and has further noted that public service broadcasting must be owned by a statutory corporation … to ensure their impartiality in political, economic and social affairs and other public matters”.
The TRAI emphasized the key role and importance of Prasar Bharati, “as an independent legal body”, had suggested that it should fulfill the legitimate aspirations of government agencies regarding broadcasting activities, while at the same time recommending the ‘arm’s length’ relationship between Prasar Bharati and the government continue to be strengthened.
The advisory said that the access of central and state governments and UT administrations to broadcasts for educational purposes should be done through appropriate agreements between Prasar Bharati and the concerned governments, it said. However, this does not affect existing policies regarding the establishment of community radio by government universities, colleges, schools, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, central/state universities, including autonomous agencies and agricultural universities, the ministry said.