Dasmuni broadcasting

Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi’s diatribe against media owners is not without merit. If the proposed Broadcasting Bill facilitates a discussion on the way the media function, we need to welcome it.
While the ratcheting up on the supposed attack on freedom of the press in the Bill is good, even it is unfounded. It will certainly ensure that the Dasmunsi’s will quickly make an about turn. But let’s spare ourselves the vitriol of the likes of L.K. Advani.
The most important aspect of the proposed Bill, however, is its pronouncements of cross-media ownership.
According to reports the Bill proposes to cap cross media ownership at 20 per cent. It also proposes to restructure the shareholding pattern in media companies. It would mean that a broadcaster cannot have more than 20 per cent stake in a separate broadcasting network, a cable network or DTH or a radio network.
Quite like for FM radio operators, the Bill apparently proposes to ensure that television networks too will not be allowed to own more than 15 per cent of the total number of channels or 30 channels of the 200 channels registered in India.
According to reports, the Bill proposes limits the number of subscribers for cable and service providers to a maximum of 15 per cent.
Now, if this is the main issue. Then is it adequate? Don’t consumers get to have a say in the whole debate? Why shouldn’t the whole debate be opened up to include every segment of society? Would Dasmusi like that? Would the media owners like that?

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