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Centre examining nod for news on FM radio

LiveMint logoLiveMint 01-06-2014 PTI

Mumbai: Union information and broadcasting (I&B) minister Prakash Javadekar on Saturday said that the Centre is considering to allow privately-owned FM radio channels to start their own news broadcast.

“Why should FM channels be banned from broadcasting news? The Centre is considering to allow privately-owned FM radio channels to start their own news broadcast,” Javadekar told reporters here on Saturday.

“The auction of FM radios has already entered its third phase. We will issue the guidelines in this connection shortly,” he added.

The move is likely to benefit over two dozen private FM channels that are operational in the country at present, many of them owned by established media houses.

The government is in favour of getting the remaining part of the digitisation of TV cables completed through the domestically manufactured set-top boxes (STB), rather than depending on the neighbouring country China for the same, he said.

According to the minister, digitisation of four crore TV sets across the country has already been completed so far. However, for the completion of the remaining part of digitisation of 11.5 crore TV sets in the country comprising phase III and phase IV, we want to get the same done domestically, he said.

“It will help serve two purposes. While it will generate more employment, it will also ensure that the STBs get repaired in case or their becoming out of order”, said he. Javadekar said he would discuss the topic with the finance and commerce ministers next week.

Javadekar also said his ministry is seeking inputs from various stakeholders on whether to allow 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in news media.

“The Centre is currently busy collecting views of various stakeholders in connection with the issue of allowing 100% FDI in news media,” Javadekar told reporters.

“We want to take the views of all the stakeholders before we take a final decision if we should give a go-ahead for the 100% FDI in news media. We are not in a hurry to go for the same,” he added.

Currently, FDI is allowed only up to 26% in news and current affairs media, while 100% FDI is allowed in non-news media like a trade publication and general entertainment channel (GEC).

On the issue of paid news, Javadekar said a meeting of council of ministers will be held shortly to discuss the matter. The issue of paid news is of two kinds, Javadekar said adding, “While the first one is related to the elections, the other one was directly connected to the privately-owned business newspapers.”

“The issue is if the corporate houses have their stakes in business newspapers and in case they publish news relating to their own ventures in those newspapers then should they declare them as private treaties?” he asked.

The final meeting of the committee that was set up to look into the issue of paid news will be held on Sunday.

“I am a member of the committee which will be meeting for the last time tomorrow,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the ministers to frame their priority lists for the first 100 days.

“We are currently busy preparing reports in this connection,” Javadekar added.

Javadekar, who also holds the environment portfolio, said, “India’s role in climate change will be put strongly and we will include NGOs in this task.” PTI

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