Regulation:We can't abdicate our role in toto, Govt tells TV channel

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New Delhi, Aug 22 (UNI) While recognising that self-regulation of content by TV channels was very desirable, the Government today made it clear to broadcasters that it could not abdicate its role as regulator in toto in the prevailing media scenario.

Senior Government functioinaries participating in a conference on media sought to remind the broadcasters bodies that the self-regulation code being prepared by them was welcome but they should not forget the fact that there were hundreds of channels which were not part of their association and would not feel obliged to abide by the code they agree upon.

Ms Sushma Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said the government would not like to interefere in the affairs of TV channels, especially news channels, but the broadcasters should put in place a self-regulation mechanism as soon as possible.

She, however, said industry while devising its self-regulation code cannot shut its eyes towards the existing social values, national interest.

In fact already there were some norms of the profession which are to be adhered to, she added.

She was delivering the keynote address at the 'News Next 2008' conference organised by the Exchange4Media news portal.

Pointing out that the broadcast industry was expanding fast with already around 400 channels in operation, and 150 in process, Ms Singh said there has to be some legal authority, some system in place to keep an eye on aberrations that can take place.

The issue of content apart, the government was the regulator for the whole broadcast sector, she said.

''We need to regulate to regulate to create an enabling environment, promote healthy competition in the sector and protect the consumer interest,'' said the Secretary.

She said the Ministry was trying to keep UP with latest technologies, introducing ever new services. Just a day back the IPTV policy was cleared by the Cabinet and the policy on HITS, third Phase of the FM and mobile TV were also in the offing, Ms Singh said.

The extension of CAS was also under consideration, and the Ministry was actively promoting digitisation which would bring in more revenue earning and save money which could be used for creating better content, the Secretray said.

She underlined that the process of digitisation had been helped by introduction of DTH, CAS, IPTV, and also HITS which was in the offing.

Later, echoing the views expressed by the Secretray on self-regulation of content, Director, Content in the Ministry Prawin Kumar said the government was egerly awaiting the broadcasters to put in place their self-regulation regime.

''We would like to watch your system working, we have no problem with that, but we have to think about those who are not part of your organisations, and so not bound by the self-regulation norms you put in place,'' he said referring to the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and the India Broadcasting Foundation(IBF) which have sent a draft of their self-regulation code to the Ministry.

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