TRAI – Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, country’s highest body that takes care of all issues related to telecom, made few significant comments with regard to media freedom in the country and has recommended that political parties be barred from owning, partnering in media houses. “An inherent conflict of interests” emerges when political bodies or corporates enter into media, said TRAI.
“The entities (political bodies, religious bodies, urban, local, panchayati raj, and other publicly funded bodies, and Central and State Government ministries, departments, companies, undertakings, joint ventures, and government-funded entities and affiliates) to be barred from entry into broadcasting and TV channel distribution sectors,” Trai said.
It has also recommended a single independent media regulatory authority comprising of eminent non-media persons for TV and print media to check and impose penalties for “paid news”, “private treaties” and issues related to “editorial independence”. An exit route should be offered to these bodies from media business in case of licences already issued, suggested TRAI.
With respect to the “media regulator”, Trai said: “Government should not regulate the media; There should be a single regulatory authority for TV and print mediums; the regulatory body should consist of eminent persons from different walks of life, including the media. It should be manned predominantly by eminent non-media persons.”
TRAI has also advised to strengthen Prasar Bharati and give it operational autonomy and functional independence.