Time to Ready Laws, Ethics and Rules for Digital India
by Joe Carloe
As India is poised to maximise the opportunities its vibrant media industry offers, including the presence of almost a billion internet users by 2021, Indian Minister Smt Smriti Zubin Irani of Information and Broadcasting and Minister of Textiles says this is the time “ to put laws, ethics, and rules into place which can balance out the industry”, and prevent one dominant player to rule the media field.
In her speech to inaugurate the 15th Asia Media Summit on 10 My 2018 in New Delhi, Minister Irani said the country boasts of a robust media industry which look upon at digital world as an opportunity and challenge.
One of the challenges is “how do we attract, how do we retain, how do we develop and then deploy talent which brings good content from the trappings of revenue needs and brings about a balance in media institutions”, she said.
She cited the impact of the media industry on the economy, saying that it has an output of 2.9 percent of the country’s Gross National Product, with close to four million people benefitting from it.
India is one of the fastest advertising markets globally, expected to reach 10.95 billion dollars by end of 2018 and the mobile industry to grow to 1.55 billion in the same year.
The government is doing much to support media, the Minister said, citing the operations of 323 FM channels, the auction of some 683 channels in 236 cities, and the growth of and funding support for the community radio system, with over 200 community radio stations and 100 more in the pipeline.
Mr Vineet Jain, Managing Director of the Times Group, India, also spoke at the AMS inaugural ceremony, citing challenges the Indian government needs to deal with, for instance, the near monopoly of telecom companies.
“The government must discourage further merger, acquisition of telecom companies that could drastically limit choices of consumers”, he said.
He also warned of serious economic and political implications as India’s largest internet businesses will be either entirely or heavily owned by American and Chinese companies.
Amidst the spread of misinformation and propaganda in digital media platforms, “the government must take a proactive stance in holding digital platforms accountable for what they publishe or broadcast”, he added.
He also called on government to institute reforms in the FM radio industry to spur exponential growth.
Minister Irani led the lighting of the oil lamp to formally open the two-day summit. She was joined by Mr Hasanul Haq Inu, Bangladeshi Minister of Information, Dr Khieu Kaanharith, Cambodian Information Minister, and Mr Sam Seog Ko, Standing Commissioner of the Korea Communications Commission.
Dr Abbas Naseri Taheri, President of AIBD General Conference & Advisor to the President, IRIB, Iran, delivered a message on behalf of the Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD), main organiser of the conference.
Mr. Taheri spoke of the perils in the fast changing media landscape, among them, the undermining of the traditional and indigenous culture, particularly the family as a foundation of society, and how to protect cultural borders and deep-rooted culture through good storytelling.
In meeting the challenges of modern media as well as storytelling, he urged media to look into innovative solutions that can protect the audience as an important asset of broadcast systems. He also called on them to better understand the benefits of new technologies that can improve public service delivery and media sustainability.