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Govt not to water down Broadcast Bill

I&B minister dismisses reports that the bill contains provisions that would help Government to muzzle the media.

india Updated: Jul 15, 2006 14:45 IST

The Government on Saturday dismissed as "baseless" and "out of context" the attack on the draft Broadcast Bill and ruled out "dilution" of the provisions of the measure that has been severely criticised as "draconian" by the media.

"I can say with responsibility that the Bill will be a media friendly, progressive legislation not seen anywhere in the world," Information and Broadcasting Minister PR Dasmunsi said at the 65th AGM of Indian Languages Newspaper Association.

Dismissing reports that the bill contained provisions that would empower the Government to muzzle the media, he said, "All talk on the content in the bill are baseless and out of context. We don't want to take away any right of the media".

Asked if the Government would dilute the current draft bill that has been prepared, Dasmunsi shot back, "We will neither dilute nor pollute it".

The minister said the Government could table the bill in the monsoon session of Parliament, to begin on July 24.

Dasmunsi, however, pointed a finger at the working of the mainstream English media. "Do their journalists enjoy freedom in their own organisations and is their work not subjected to pressures from the management," he questioned.

Dasmunsi said the media was correct in highlighting the shortcomings of the Government or its various schemes. "However, if you just report the negative and do not highlight the positive, it will not help anyone," he said. 

The minister said there was a need to facilitate the growth of the vernacular media. "We want to give priority to language press," he said.

He said the language press was in direct touch with the masses, which included people in villages and small towns.

Dasmunsi said the Government had taken steps to make the environment congenial and growth-oriented for the small and medium-size vernacular papers. "Such newspapers give people the real picture," he said.

He said corporates should also extend more support to the language press. "If you give four advertisements to English paper, then give at least two to language press also as your customers are those who read local newspapers," he said.

The minister said instead of coercing the corporates to support language press by way of legislation, the Government felt that creating an enabling facilitative environment was the right approach