New checks on TV channels

The Centre is planning to raise the entry bar for the television industry.

Information and Broadcast-ing (I&B) Minister Ambika Soni said, “The ministry secretary, Raghu Menon has written to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), seeking new restrictions to allow only serious broadcasters.”

She said of the 500 broadcasters allowed to start channels, some have not become operational, while “some opened for a few months, hired young boys and girls at a paltry salary and then closed shop.”

During the last few years, real estate and steel manufacturing companies and even some religious groups received licences to set up television channels.

The ministry also received complaints from some chief ministers and Members of Parliament that several new channels, funded by mafia groups, were threatening government bodies.

The I&B ministry gives permission to start a channel after getting security clearance from the Home Ministry and satellite clearance from the department of Space.

Menon reportedly asked TRAI to set a condition that a company proposing to start a channel should have the financial ability to run it for three to five years.

The ministry is also keen on some new restrictions, as there is limited spectrum space (bandwidth on which channels are aired) available for new channels.