The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a direction to allow private radio stations, including community radio, to broadcast news.
Hearing the PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam noted: “You rightly mentioned that radio is accessible to everybody. There is no problem in case of TV channels.”
It questioned the government for having problem in allowing private radio stations to broadcast news and directed it to file its response.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, pleaded that like television channels, radio stations be allowed to broadcast news as this medium was far more accessible to people. Radio stations, he added, could be set-up without much investment.
The PIL has challenged the validity of the provisions of the policy guidelines and of the grant of permission agreements framed by the government, prohibiting private FM radio and community radio stations from broadcasting their own news and current affairs programmes on the same footing as television and print media.
The government has issued separate policy guidelines for community radio and FM radio. The petitioner said the government has exercised its statutory powers to impose arbitrary and unreasonable restrictions on the broadcast of news by private FM radio and community radio.
Common Cause cited a 1995 SC judgment, holding airwaves were public property to be used to promote public good and said India was the lone democracy where dissemination of news and current affairs programmes on radio continues to remain a government monopoly.