‘CAG’s figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore fuelled perception of corruption. Last week’s auction has demolished that’

The Idea Exchange

Ashish Sinha: With the massive growth in the media sector, do you believe there is a need to set up a regulatory authority?

After interacting with stakeholders across the board, I have come to certain tentative conclusions. The media, and the entertainment sector as an industry, has an exponential possibility of growth. It has grown at about 12 per cent from 2006-2012. My first remit is to see how can I facilitate the growth of this industry. In the broadcast space, the ministry has been extremely proactive in pushing for digitisation and we have gone through the first phase fairly successfully in the four metros.

On other issues like carriage fee and TAM, we have asked TRAI to look at them. For print media, there is the question of paid news. We have to get all the stakeholders on board to see how we can surmount the challenge. About regulating content, by instinct I am a liberal, by training I am a lawyer so my instincts would always lean towards self-regulation. And that has been the philosophy of the UPA government. We believe in persuasion rather than regulation. The question is, how do you find the golden mean? Article 19 and the caveat to Article 19 and the issue of reasonable restrictions—how should those reasonable restrictions be policed? As far as the first part is concerned, that is an evolving debate on a daily basis. As for the policing part, that should be left to peer review, to the sector itself. The government has inherent power, but I don't think those inherent powers should be utilised until and unless there is extreme provocation. Peer review, self regulation are the best ways forward. Whether that self regulation should be clothed in some statutory architecture like the Advocates Act etc, is something for the industry to take a call on.

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