Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Information & Broadcasting
18-February-2011 14:21 IST
Digitalisation: The Way Ahead
Government Committed to Self Regulation: Ambika Soni

Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Smt. Ambika Soni said the Government was committed to put in place a system of self regulation based on the Public Private Partnership model. The model entailed involvement of key stakeholders of the media and the entertainment industry and civil society. For this purpose it was being envisaged to establish a Thirteen member “Broadcasting Content Complaints Council” based on consultations held with civil society representatives and the representative body for entertainment channels that is the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF). The constitution of such a body would enable a process to view content through an appropriate mechanism. The minister stated this while delivering her address at the CII Content Summit “Adapting from Wired to Wireless” here today.

Speaking on the occasion, the minister said as far as content was concerned, it had to be balanced with the prevalent diversity in the country, the existence of multiple channels, the suitability and tastes of different target audiences and the nuances of the regional media. Moreover as the volume of programming had increased, self regulation was the way forward keeping in mind the fact that television was becoming increasingly localized. A self regulatory mechanism would ensure an element of objectivity in viewing and addressing issues relating to content. In this regard, the minister also referred to the system of self regulation put in place by the National News Broadcasters Association (NBA) with regard to news channels. A constructive partnership between the Government and the NBA had ensured that the system of self regulation worked effectively addressing the concern of both. The self regulation model put in force by ASCI had also worked effectively in modulating content in the advertising industry.

Regarding the roadmap for digitalization, Smt. Soni said, that the ministry had extensive discussions with TRAI to ascertain the date for fixing the sun set hour for digitalization. The need for a modified timeframe was felt keeping in view the enormity of the challenge and the need to give the industry sufficient time to gear up to meet the challenge.

Regarding the future roadmap, based on TRAI’s final recommendations, Smt. Soni said the Ministry would amend the concerned Act to position these policy changes. For tax incentives which constituted an integral part of the roadmap, proposals have been submitted to the Finance Minister related to reduction of taxes for digital headends, set top boxes and rationalization of taxes including income tax holiday for prospective investors.

The minister also mentioned that the Ministry had approved a plan scheme for upgrading the free-to-air DTH platform of Doordarshan to be able to carry 97 channels instead of 57 channels as of now. This capacity increase is likely by December 2011. It is planned to further increase the carrying capacity to 200 channels in the 12th Plan period. This would enable those persons who cannot afford to incur recurring expenses on a monthly basis to be able to watch TV channels at a onetime cost for purchase of STB without any further expenses. Regarding the issue of copyrights, the minister said that the ministry would work towards streamlining issues to address the concerns of key stakeholders. On the policy initiatives of the ministry, the minister said it would play a role of a facilitator promoting innovation, convergence new media formats and multi media platforms.