NDA government plans big boost to DD, AIR

The NDA government plans to reenergise state-owned media - television broadcaster Doordarshan (DD) and radio broadcaster All India Radio (AIR).

The government will ''re-energise both'' the state-run media channels and bring back their lost glory, minister for Information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said at `The Hindu Leadership Summit' at the 'GoaFest 2014'.

Javadekar said he had already discussed the matter with Prasar Bharati officials. ''We want to make DD competitive in the current scenario add fantastic content''.

On the issue of allowing news broadcast on private FM channels, the new I&B minister said the issue of news on FM channels was close to his heart and it will be examined before the third phase of FM auction.

On cable TV digitisation, he said the government may relax the deadlines if necessary, and put a stress on indigenous manufacture of set top boxes.

Speaking about media censorship and the imminent threat of arrests over social media posts, Javadekar said social media comes under the IT Act which is a ten-year-old legislation. ''Much has changed since then,'' he added.

On the freedom of the media, he said, ''The right to criticise and voice your dissent is your right.'' However, he said that the government was all for freedom of the media, which was the greatest pillar of democracy. ''But with every freedom comes responsibility,'' he quickly added.

Yet, he said he preferred self-imposed discipline for laws cannot be enforced unless the intent comes from within as in the case of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) that had imposed self-censorship in the advertising business. ''If there are bodies like ASCI in industry, there is no need for the Government to intervene,'' he said.

On the issue of dangers of industrialists owning media companies being detrimental to the efficient functioning of the media, he said, ''Cross media ownership was being actively debated now. If that boils down to a game of three - four owners, what happens to the state of media are some questions being raised.''

Cross-ownership of media and the controversial television ratings system were the key issues that were being debated actively, h said.

''We will work extra time and walk the extra mile but come to decisions on these,'' he said.

He said TAM Media had shown great marketing skills in selling its product in such a way that every broadcaster was capable of claiming they are on top in terms of viewership.

Competitive market forces like the broadcaster -unded BARC, which is currently preparing for launching its own measurement systems, can help in increasing the efficiency of measurement. ''I believe in open market systems as it ensures fair play,'' he said.