Television channels may come under the government scanner, with Priyaranjan Das Munsi, Union minister for Information and Broadcasting, openly criticising the television rating point system of viewership assessment and news content.
On the issue of increasing the level of FDI in media, Das Munshi said, "The issue is to be settled with other government ministries. However, if Indian newspapers are the facsimile of foreign ones, the newspaper management will gain, but Indian corporates will suffer in terms of advertisement. A sudden jump in foreign participation will protect some media houses, but not all."
He alleged that certain channels were violating the guidelines of up-linking and down-linking.
Speaking in Kolkata at the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Das Munsi said, "The TRP mechanism in India is not only faulty, but is a game between the stock exchange and the company. It is a very serious and delicate issue. Five to six big corporate channels account for advertisement revenue close to Rs 5,000-6,000 crore. This mechanism should be looked into and more transparency is needed in the system."
Viewership in states in the North East, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh was not taken into account in the present TRP system, he added.
Das Munsi said, "Some channels have manufactured their products in Mumbai, down-linked them to Hong Kong and up-linked them to India to evade taxes, and this is not less than Rs 3,000 crore."
According to the estimates of the I&B ministry, by the end of the 11th Plan, the number of television channels in India will be close to 465. Currently, there are about 340 channels operating in India, with approximately 280 national ones.
Also, some news channels, in the name of news, were airing entertainment items, he said. The content of the channels should be self-regulated, and a committee comprising members selected by Hamid Ansari, vice-president of India, will soon take up the issue, he said.
The minister promised that the government will give a fresh and more attractive look to public broadcaster Doordarshan as it was the official government channel, and also encourage community radios, which might be allowed to earn marginal revenues through the advertisement of agriculture products.