Nodal Group soon for news flow during major crisis like 26/11

Nodal Group soon for news flow during major crisis like 26/11


 School children visit the Parliament, in New Delhi on Monday. PTI

This group is being set up in response to a suggestion by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) considering the experience of 26/11 when the entire nation was angry on the way the attacks were telecast by news channels, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told the Lok Sabha.

"I would like to inform the House that formation of the nodal group is in the final stage," Soni said.
The Minister also said that since last couple of months news broadcasters have shown restraint without any notice or advisory. "The government is not in favour of censoring news... But, nevertheless, we have been able to talk to editors about the contents," she said.

Replying to a supplementary, the minister said the Advertising Code under the Cable Regulatory Act has been violated by several channels and in the last six months the I&B ministry has issued 30 notices to them.

On the issue of hike in foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in news and current affairs TV channels to 49 per cent from the present 26 per cent as recommended by telecom regulator TRAI, she said, "We are sensitive about it... we do not want too much of foreign investment in print, electronic media or radio."

Soni said the matter has been referred back to TRAI as to whether it would like to revisit its recommendations in the light of circulars issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry with regard to calculation of indirect foreign investment.
On the monitoring of contents, she said chief secretaries and other authorised officers like district collectors and police commissioners in all states have been asked to form monitoring committees at the state and district levels to monitor contents on respective local channels.
"Only six states and 67 district committees have been formed so far," she said adding that unless these committees recommend action, the Centre cannot act.

Replying to another question that the government should put restrictions on a single group or a person owning news paper, TV channel and radio as well, Soni said, "TRAI has given some guidelines with regard to cross holding and the ministry is examining these.

"As far as possible, we do not want to encourage cross holding in media," she added.
On the issue of setting up a regulatory authority to control or monitor contents, the minister said several attempts have been made in the last few months to arrive at some kind of solution.

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