A seminar on Communication Convergence Bill was
organized today at Chennai by the recently formed New
Fittingly, the seminar was inaugurated by the Union Minister for Telecommunications
through a specially recorded Video message.
After an initial introduction from Mr R.Rangaraj, the President of the
forum, Mr N. Ram of Hindu group presented the Key note address. This was
followed by the first Technical session with a presentation by Naavi on
the "Overview of the Bill". Mr N. Parameshwaran, senior GM of VSNL and
Mr S.Babu, CEO, AVM Telecom then followed in a Panel discussion on the
" Objectives and Scope of the Bill".
In the second technical session, Mr Maalan of Sun TV headed the panel
consisting of himself and Mr P.S.Sundaram, C E O of Intelli Vision.
In the third technical session, Mr B.S. Raghavan, a veteran in the telecom
field, and Mr P.S.Surana, advocate presented their views on the "Regulatory
Framework and its impact on the Society". Mr Surana handed over a draft
of changes proposed by him to the forum.
This was followed by a valedictory address by Mr Sashi Kumar Menon,
Chairman, Asian Media Institute.
Mr G.Shankaranarayan proposed the vote of thanks.
The sessions were interspersed with lively discussions on the various
provisions of the Bill. The programme ended with a late lunch.
Some of the main points made during the seminar are summarised below:
1. The members of the broadcast media were of the opinion that the Communication
Convergence Bill was an attempt to bring in controls and regulations to
censor the operations of the private sector broadcast media.
2. It was pointed out that the Bill deliberately avoided including the
Print Media for regulation. It also left out the Public sector TV/AIR media.
In effect therefore, it is exercising control only on the private sector
broadcasting media. This selective regulation came in for a strong criticism
from one section of experts.
3. The provisions regarding the proposed programme and advertising code
also came in for debate. While one section of the gathering felt that the
Government cannot try to impose "Cultural Policing" through the regulations,
another section felt that "Reasonable Regulation" was necessary for the
4. The Composition of the proposed Communication Convergence Commission
and the lack of representation of the industry in it were hotly criticized.
It ws felt that the earlier draft of the Nariman Committee in this regard
was superior and the present provision makes for all the powers to be held
with the Government only.
5. The Spectrum committee composition was also criticized since it was
felt that the responsibility for "Spectrum Management" should be given
to a 'Telecom Professional of impeccable international reputation" and
not left to the "Cabinet Secretary".
6. The powers of "Interception" was another area which did not go down
with a section of the gathering who represented "Libertarians". However
a section of the gathering felt that the country cannot do without such
provisions to manage its security requirements.
7. It was also pointed out that the Bill does not have proper provisions
for implementations. It was suggested that there should be clarity on time
limits for various provisions such as "Appointment", "Appeal" etc.
8. The need to define the terms such as "officer", etc was spelt out.
9. The provision that only Chartered Accountant and Cost Accountants
can represent the appellants in the tribunal was also held as discriminatory
and a point on which the Bill could be questioned in a court of law.
10. The enormous powers that the Bill bestows on the adjudicating officer
for levying penalties for various offenses and the risk of corruption was
also highlighted. Many felt that the Bill was "Draconian".
11.A section of the participants felt that the Bill in its present form
is too badly drafted to deserve passage and has to be reviewed in entirety.
Some felt that there is a need to have checks and balances during implementation
so that the apprehensions can be adequately addressed.
12. it was agreed that a summary of the observations would be prepared
by the forum and sent across to the Ministry shortly.
February 25, 2001
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