KOLKATA: The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) has been working for a long time to help the broadcasting industry gain infrastructure status. But it seems that won’t happen anytime soon as the department of economic affairs (DEA) under the ministry of finance has rejected MIB’s proposal for the same due to failure to meet certain standards requisite for securing infrastructure status.
“A proposal for grant of infrastructure status to the distribution segment of the broadcasting sector, as requested by the industry, was submitted to the nodal department viz department of economic affairs, ministry of finance. The DEA, however, did not agree to the proposal for not meeting the specified criteria,” information & broadcasting (I&B) minister Prakash Javadekar told the Lok Sabha.
While MIB started working to formulate a National Broadcast Policy (NBP), the ministry took up the agenda of granting infrastructure status to mass-manufactured equipment and components of broadcasting distribution services.
Back in December, MIB additional secretary Neerja Shekhar had also sought the industry’s support in getting infrastructure status and called on industry bodies like CII to conduct "good periodic surveys and research" on media consumption patterns that would help the ministry in formulating policies.
In line with this, the government has initiated a consultation process with stakeholders like industry, academia and expert bodies in order to create an enabling environment for ensuring transparency, non-discrimination, consumer protection and orderly growth of the broadcasting sector.
“The feedback received includes, inter alia, recommendations to achieve universal reach of broadcasting, improve choice of content, enable a level playing field for sectoral growth and enhance global outreach of broadcast content from India,” Javadekar informed on the progress of the policy.
However, he went on to add that no time frame can be indicated for the finalisation of the policy as it has multi-dimensional implications and it needs to be firmed up after due process.
Industry stakeholders have been petitioning the government to grant infrastructure status as it will enable players including broadcasters, cable providers, and multi-system operators to raise capital and upgrade their equipment.
Experts believe that following convergence of telecom, IT, and broadcasting, the distinction between them has diminished, and as a level-playing field, the benefits under infrastructure status accorded to the telecom sector should be extended to the broadcasting industry too.