Justifying the mandatory 30-minutes public service broadcasting on daily basis for private TV channels, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said instead of auctioning airwaves, the government has allocated airwaves to television channels for taking their programmes to people.
"In exchange, the government has asked television channels to broadcast public interest and national interest issues for 30 minutes. Several television channels are already carrying such programmes," Thakur said, adding that the decision was taken in accordance with the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
Thakur was responding to former Prasar Bharati CEO and Rajya Sabha member Jawahar Sircar's remarks about the public broadcaster's "failure" to discharge its functions.
"The honourable member has been the CEO of Prasar Bharati. It does not behove him to make comments that the public broadcaster has failed," Thakur said in the Rajya Sabha.
Sircar, a Trinamool Congress (TMC) member, had questioned the government's move to make it mandatory for television channels to carry public service broadcasts as part of their programming for at least 30 minutes every day.
"Public sector broadcasting has been mandated for all television channels of India. Public service broadcasting was the mandate of Prasar Bharati. Has the Prasar Bharati failed?" Sircar had asked.
The I&B minister said the new uplinking and downlinking guidelines for television channels focus on ease of doing business and ease of compliance.
The minister said the government has done away with the permissions for telecasting events live, which now only need to be pre-registered on an online portal.
He said permissions for uplinking were earlier renewed for a year and that time limit has been extended to five years in the revised guidelines.