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Bar corporates, religious and political bodies, ministries and government departments from media ownership: TRAI

Tuesday, 12 August 2014 - 4:30pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna webdesk

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Tuesday released recommendations on issues relating to ownership, licensing, control rules and regulations, including merger and acquisition rules for the media.

It reiterated its recommendation that religious bodies, political bodies, panchayati raj or other publicly funded bodies, central and state ministries and departments or even government affiliates must not be allowed to enter broadcasting and TC channel distribution sectors.

It also recommended a single independent media regulatory authority comprising predominantly of eminent non-media persons for TV and print media to check and impose penalties for "paid news", "private treaties" and issues related to "editorial independence". TRAI does not even want the government to regulate the media and recommends an independent authority comprising of people from different walks of life to do this. Any appointments to such authorities must be made through a fair and transparent process.

"The entities (political bodies, religious bodies, urban, local, panchayati raj, and other publicly funded bodies, and Central and State Government ministries, departments, companies, undertakings, joint ventures, and government-funded entities and affiliates) to be barred from entry into broadcasting and TV channel distribution sectors," TRAI said.

It has said that an exit route option should be provided in case permission to any such organisations have already been granted.

Commenting on corporates entering media, it said: "On grounds of the inherent conflict of interest, the Authority recommends that ownership restrictions on corporates entering the media should be seriously considered by the Government and the regulator."

With respect to the "media regulator", TRAI said: "Government should not regulate the media; There should be a single regulatory authority for TV and print mediums; the regulatory body should consist of eminent persons from different walks of life, including the media. It should be manned predominantly by eminent non-media persons." It said the government must increase its distance with Prasar Bharti so that the latter has more autonomy in its functioning.

It has recommended adopting the Herfindahl Hirschman Index to measure the concentration in a media segment in a relevant market. If any house is seen to be controlling more than a certain share in its market according to this index, it will have to start diluting its control.

It aims to do away with all "private treatise" which might involve advertising in exchange for the equity of the company advertised, or favourable coverage or exclusive advertising rights in exchange for publicity.

Read the full recommendations of TRAI here.


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