PM assures consultation on changes in Cable Television Network Rules

January 14th, 2009 - 9:04 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Jan.14 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, has received several representations from media agencies regarding certain proposed changes in the Cable Television Network Rules currently under consideration.
He has assured that the matter will be taken up for finalization only after the widest possible consultation with all the stakeholders and eliciting their different points of view on the proposed changes.
The Prime Minister’’s statement comes in the wake of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry getting approval from the Law Ministry to amend the Cable Television Network Rules 1994 following the November 26, 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai.
The amendments would curb telecast of such events as 26/11.
Many have questioned the necessity of adding new rules, implying that current laws are sufficient for the government to exercise control over the media in case of an emergency. Some have said that the new laws could be open to misuse by the government, resulting in censorship.
There is another view that says that self-regulation is a laudable aim, and may work in a perfect society.
According to one analysis, the media had 60 hours to get its act together during the Mumbai attacks, but the coverage only got progressively worse. Whether it is murder cases over the past year or terrorist attacks, the media has proven that it is incapable of regulating itself.
In its present format, the bill, likely to be delayed as broadcasters lobby the government for changes, would set limits on scale and expansion and bring the $3.6 billion television industry under one regulator responsible for controlling content and issuing licences to more than 20,000 cable operators.
It would cap a broadcaster’’s ownership in another broadcaster, distributor or cable operator at 20 per cent; limit any broadcaster’’s ownership to 15 per cent of all TV channels; and cap a cable or distribution firm’’s subscriber base in any city, state or country at 15 per cent.
Broadcasters can currently own up to 20 per cent in a Direct-To-Home (DTH) satellite network, but there is no ceiling on ownership in cable distribution operations or on market share.
The bill will impact operations of India’’s largest broadcaster, News Corp.’’s Star, as well as Zee Telefilms Ltd. and Sun TV Ltd., which have interests in cable distribution and DTH operations.
India has a cable TV base of 64 million homes, or 59 per cent of all television- owning homes. (ANI)

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