NEW DELHI: In a bid to check influence on news and views, Trai on Tuesday suggested barring political parties from entering into broadcasting space, while it recommended several restrictions on the corporate houses in this regard.
“Ownership is a huge concern… how do you know that a TV channel operated out of Bhopal owned by a local MLA or MP is conveying the truth rather than tinted version of the truth. This is one problem with political ownership,” said Trai chairman Rahul Khullar while releasing recommendations on ‘Issues Relating to Media Ownership’.
About corporate ownership, the regulator said, it has to be seen as to how much independence is enjoyed by the editorial team in a media house owned by them.
“…to what extent the editorial is actually independent and how thin is the line between the newsroom and the boardroom. Second problem with media corporate ownership is this business of advertorials, private treaties… I am sorry to say it has reached scandalous position… You cannot carry on by passing out advertisements as news,” Khullar added.
Trai also recommended that in case of “advertorials”, a clear disclaimer should be mandated, to be printed in bold letters, stating that the succeeding content has been paid for.
Commenting on corporates entering media, Trai 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.”
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) suggested that entities including ‘political bodies, religious bodies, central and state government ministries and government funded entities be barred from entry into broadcasting and TV channel distribution sectors’.
The regulator even suggested that even surrogates of such entities “should be barred from entering into the sector”.
Trai has suggested enactment of a new legislation through a executive decision for it. It has also suggested that an exit route option should be provided in case permission to any such organizations have already been granted.
In the recommendations, Trai relies heavily on media articles and TV documentaries to illustrate how political parties own channels in various states and how they and newspapers black out news that are adverse to their interests.