Autonomous body to look into broadcasting sector: Soni | india | Hindustan Times
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Autonomous body to look into broadcasting sector: Soni

india Updated: Oct 18, 2009 13:14 IST

PTI
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Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni on Sunday categorically said the government is mandated to set up an independent mechanism, which would look at all aspects of the broadcasting sector.

Speaking to Karan Thapar on his programme 'Devil's Advocate' on CNN-IBN, Soni specifically said the intention of the government was not to regulate television news channels.

"Believe it or not, we are not putting a regulator to monitor content, that is not the intention of the government at all. It would be an independent autonomous body, without government control, which will look at all the ministry related issues," she said.

When probed further as to why the ministry was planning to have a regulator for television news channels even though it has no such plans for the print media, Soni said, "What we are talking about is a mechanism. You may call it a regulator. It is not a regulator in the context of content control.

"There is a debate going on for a long time on what kind of a body should be there. I have not put a time frame to it (debate). I don't know what everybody will decide. We have been speaking to News Broadcasters Association and other bodies of broadcasters. They all have their own self regulatory mechanisms."

Soni added that she did not want the ministry "to play the role of a regulator. I have an absolutely open mind. I have clarified that I don't want to regulate on behalf of the ministry but through some other mechanism which is autonomous.
"In fact the various broadcasters' bodies have asked us to facilitate a nodal group of ministers which can be accessed by them in times of emergency(like Mumbai attacks)".

On the ministry sending notices to television programmes like 'Sach Ka 'Samna and 'Pati, Patni Aur Woh', Soni said, "I don't think government acts on its own (in such instances). I don't see government wanting to do that at all.

"Let people decide what kind of infrastructure mechanism they want to have which balances finely the rights of freedom of speech and expression as well as sensitivities of society."

The minister however refused to comment on the portrayal of Nehru-Edwina relationship in the English film 'Indian Summer' and instead said foreign films wanting to shoot in India have to follow certain government rules and as far as the issue of suggesting changes in the script to the film's producers, this was also done as per existing norms.

"We don't really get into the film making aspect of Indian films. But films which are coming in from outside, they don't get permission from Ministry of Home affairs for their visas etc, till the content has been looked into by I&B ministry.

"This is not my creation, this has been there for so many years... It's not a question of changes (in the script). What I said right in the beginning, it's trying to balance. If we ask them to overlook some of the parts of the script or to eliminate some of the script, it is a role also performed by the Censor Board headed by Sharmila Tagore."

Soni, however, refused to be engaged into a discussion on her personal views on the content of the film.

"I have no personal views. There are facts of history. I am not at all at any stage wanting to put my views on any subject on to the table," the minister said.

When asked whether she was protecting Nehru and Edwina from the truth of their relationship because of embarrassment caused by the facts (of their relationship), Soni said, "I am not going to get provoked by you.

"I know the mechanism is there which does not only affect this particular film. In the last three years, 97 foreign films including 'Slumdog Millionaire' have been cleared for shooting in India. I don't want to say anything else on this."