Continued from Page 1
He, however, admitted that the process was still “in the works”. The “creative challenge” for TRAI was evolving the precise design.
Recommendations on corporate control will form a part of TRAI’s suggestions to the government on cross-media ownership. In a consultation paper on the issue, the authority also flagged the issue of certain media houses having interests in all forms — television, print, and radio — which led to “horizontal integration,” and asked whether there ought to be restrictions.
Mr. Khullar categorically rejected objections from media houses that any such restriction would violate the right to freedom of speech under Article 19 of the Constitution: “All robust democracies have some restrictions on cross-media ownership. This is absolutely necessary to maintain the plurality and diversity of media. Let us see what form it takes.”
TRAI is understood to be contemplating a “two out of three rule”, whereby a media house could have interests in two of three mediums among print, TV or radio. But no decision has been taken yet.
It plans to submit a report in eight to 10 weeks. Over the past few months, it has held open house discussions on the issue across the country, sought submissions on its consultation paper and spoken to stakeholders. It submitted a report on the issue in 2009. But since no action was taken and the situation had changed significantly, the government asked the regulator to come out with a fresh set of recommendations last year.
“My recommendations will not be wishy-washy but have clarity and detail. The government can then choose what to do,” said Mr. Khullar.