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Over the last few months, the broadcast industry has consistently sought more ease of doing business from the government. Photo: iStockphoto
Over the last few months, the broadcast industry has consistently sought more ease of doing business from the government. Photo: iStockphoto

Broadcasters seek less regulation

While some experts said less regulation was crucial to encourage disruptive content, the consensus was that perhaps the broadcast industry should be free of government control or have people with more experience in media and entertainment head authority bodies

NEW DELHI: Traditional television that continues to be a mass medium, flourishing even as video steaming platforms gain ground, needs to be regulated differently from the digital players, broadcast industry experts said. Speaking on the second day of Ficci Frames, the media and entertainment industry event held online this year, channel and distribution platform heads said the medium was already in dire straits since covid-19 had wiped off its advertising revenue.

“Over the years, our regulation has not been on a par with the technological advancement we have made across platforms," Vynsley Fernandes, chief executive officer, IndusInd Media and Communications Ltd said. Fernandes and co-panelist Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP Network brought to the fore the challenges that television faces because of excessive regulation that is often not conducive with creativity.

Emphasizing that broadcast networks have been cognizant of their responsibilities, Pandey cited the example of the Pulwama attacks last year when images and videos of Indian air force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, captured by the Pakistani forces, were already circulating on social networks like WhatsApp and Facebook though news channels held back from airing the same.

While other panelists such as Megha Tata, managing director, South Asia, Discovery Asia Pacific said less regulation was crucial to encourage disruptive content, the consensus was that perhaps the broadcast industry should be free of government control or have people with more experience in media and entertainment head authority bodies instead of administrators.

Speaking on the first day of the five-day event yesterday, Amit Khare, secretary, ministry of information and broadcasting had however said that the government is working on a ‘light touch regulatory regime’ that will bring all the sectors within the media and entertainment (M&E) industry— print, television, radio, films and digital media—under one governance umbrella, allowing a level playing field.

“There is definitely a need for a level playing field amongst the different media, but level playing field will not mean that we bring everybody under a very heavy regulatory structure. In fact, during the last six years of the present government, the entire focus has been on ease of doing business and on having less but more effective regulation," Khare had added.

Over the last few months, the broadcast industry has consistently sought more ease of doing business from the government. In June, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) had brought up issues such as timelines to permit new companies, or cases when a recognised broadcast entity, want to launch a new channel, change its logo, get a new board director without altering the shareholding pattern significantly, and so on, for which it believed the government should give approvals without trying to wield power over the industry.

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