The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shourie regulator rap on Prasad

New Delhi, Aug. 28: Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Union information and broadcasting minister who is so bedevilled by policies his ministry announces but fails to implement, has now got a rocket from his ministerial colleague, information technology minister Arun Shourie.

Since he took over as I&B minister early this year, Prasad has been campaigning for a broadcast regulatory authority in public and private fora, arguing that as the convergence bill was effectively in cold storage, a regulator was sorely needed in a hurry.

The bill proposes to create the Convergence Commission of India, a super regulator that will be responsible for carriage and content for electronic media. Prasad has let it be known that as things stand now, the commission chairman will be “the third most powerful office in the country after the Prime Minister and the deputy Prime Minister” and that this was patently unfair.

One of the reasons Prasad has been saying it is so difficult to implement the conditional access system is the absence of the broadcast regulator that can shape the cable television industry. A broadcast regulator could also have looked into the issues raised by STAR News’ application for a long-term licence to uplink.

Prasad has asked officers in his ministry to revise the broadcast bill drafted by the government in 1997. I&B ministers are wont to feel threatened by the overarching powers sought to be vested with the Convergence Commission.

But now, Shourie has taken exception to Prasad’s mostly private rantings. In a letter to the ministry, he has said that despite several reminders, it has not responded and given its responses on the convergence bill. He has asked for the I&B ministry to “expedite” its replies.

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