Amendments to PRB Act by March 2010 high on agenda: Govt

"Though the Act has been amended in a piecemeal manner many times, it needs to be updated the terms of the law according to the prevailing environment governing the print media sector," Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni said while inaugurating the 27th State Information Ministers Conference (SIMCON) at Vigyan Bhawan here.

She maintained that existing provisions of the Act are inadequate to cater to the phenomenal growth of print media in the backdrop of the liberalisation of government policies.
Soni said timely de-registration of titles that are not published and stopping blocking of titles thereby discouraging non-serious publishers are among the key amendments proposed.

On television content, she said while self-regulation is ideal, it needs to be considered whether this will fully serve the purpose and meet all concerns of the society at large.
"A co-regulation model could be a way forward. An identified group with Secretary I and B formatting a structured interaction to arrive at a consensus needs to be initiated from the SIMCON platform," she said.

Describing piracy as a major deterrent for growth and profitability of the media and entertainment sector, Soni said, "If loss of revenue caused by piracy is plugged, there would be more resources available to fund new ideas, innovations and projects."

"Reducing entertainment tax rates and digital exhibition of films in cinema theatres can help in curbing production of pirated CDs and DVDs," Soni said.

The Ministry has requested the state governments to explore the desirability of having an Act which would effectively check the menace of video piracy, she said. In September 2009, states were requested to give latest position on tax rates so that a view could be taken, she said.

"Though entertainment tax is a state subject, for comprehensive growth, rationalisation is the need of the hour even for broadcasting sector," she said adding that subsuming the entertainment tax on broadcasting and cable services under the proposed Goods and Services Tax by April 2010 is a plausible suggestion.

Soni invited SIMCON participants to define the parameters which would determine the transition to digitalisation.

 Addressing the meet, Press Council of India Chairman Justice G N Ray said having representatives from media and states at the same forum highlights that media and authorities are not adversaries but partners in task of nation-building. He urged the media to ensure that its core values are not transgressed, adding a framework to promote self-regulation, particularly in the electronic media, should be developed.

Film industry representatives Yash Chopra and Kamal Hasan expressed concern about the high entertainment tax and the menace of piracy affecting the industry adversely. They suggested strong laws and administrative action.

The meet was attended by Goa Chief Minister Digambar V Kamat, Information Ministers of 15 states and representatives of broadcasters' associations like IBF and NBA.

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