New Delhi: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman Rahul Khullar on Saturday said the government must urgently formulate a national media policy.

“Government, state governments and their organs have no business to be in the broadcasting and distribution space and it is my considered view that the government needs to announce this as an integral part of its national media policy," said Khullar while delivering his address at a media conference hosted by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Khullar added that as per a Supreme Court ruling airwaves are not a property of the state. “So, Prasar Bharati must exist as a public broadcaster and it must be independent of the government," he added.

Khullar also discussed the other components of the national media policy, including plurality of views and opinions and media regulation.

“There must be a clear interpretation that we want a free media unhampered and unrestricted by the government. There must be a commitment to uphold plurality of views and diversity of opinions. There is a need for media regulation. We also have to start talking about infrastructure issues like the efficient use of spectrum for both direct-to-home and telecom operators."

On the issue of convergence between the ministry of information and broadcasting and the telecom ministry, Khullar proposed, “Let carriage be the exclusive preserve of one ministry and let content be that of the other. To amplify that, the department of telecommunications (DoT) should exclusively focus on carriage and carriage related issues. They are not an institution used to public dealing and they are most definitely not designed to deal with content regulation."

“On the contrary, MIB...at least has had a history that it needs to regulate content. It doesn’t do it but it gets independent regulators to do it. I think that is the way we need to go," he said.

“Today you have sector-based policies for telecom and for information and broadcasting and I assure you there is no convergence of minds between those two ministries. The truth of the matter is as you move forward you will have to reconcile those sector-based policies, which are independently being constructed in cilos to gel together in order to deal with convergence," said Khullar. “Ten years ago, we started on this road of convergence, a Bill was drafted and it ended no where quite simply because there was a huge turf war between MIB and the telecom ministry."

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