The day-long State Information Ministers’ Conference (Simcon) held here on Saturday ended with a consensus on the need for an independent, autonomous and credible regulator for broadcast issues.
Some stakeholders, however, felt that a regulator imposed by the government may not be the ideal solution as it could be a double-edged weapon.
Prominent broadcasters’ bodies such as the Broadcast Editors’ Association and the News Broadcasters’ Association pleaded for more time to prove the efficacy of the self-regulation mechanism initiated by them.
It was felt that if co-regulation was introduced, the spirit of self-regulation should overwhelmingly guide its character, and the emphasis was thus on the fact that the process of consultation in this context with different stakeholders should continue.
Other significant issues on which there was consensus included digitisation in the broadcasting sector — especially in the cable TV sector — the need for a contemporised Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act, the need for effective laws to curb piracy, and the rationalisation of entertainment tax across States and subsuming it in the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The conference — held under the chairmanship of Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni — strongly endorsed the proposal to amend the PRB Act and felt that such an amendment was long overdue.
Concerns over high entertainment tax were expressed by industry representatives and experts, who felt it dissuaded people from going to cinema halls and encouraged piracy and lowered tax collection.