PIB: Focus


PIB: Focus

PRASAR BHARATI ACT, 1990

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India has issued a notification indicating that the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990 shall come into force from 15th of September, 1997. The Prasar Bharati Act provides for establishment of a Broadcasting Corporation of India, to be known as Prasar Bharati to define its composition, functions and powers and related matters.

It provides for grant of autonomy to electronic media, namely, AIR and Doordarshan, presently under the Government control. The Act received the assent of President of India on September, 12, 1990 after being unanimously passed by Parliament. This had not come into force as the notification under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Act had not been issued. media should be under the control of the public as distinct from Government. It should be operated by a public statutory corporation or corporations, as the case may be, whose constitution and composition must be such as to ensure its/their impartiality in political, economic and social matters and on all other public issues.

A comprehensive review of the Act undertaken in 1991, had brought into focus certain operational difficulties that were likely to arise particularly in the area of personnel policy and manpower employment, issue of Government directions to the Corporation, the procedure for supersession for Prasar Bharati Board by the President etc. The Cabinet considered the issue for suitable amendments during the last few years. However, no final decision was taken. Meanwhile with the advent of satellite channels and their rapid proliferation, the broadcasting environment had undergone a sea-change. Also two significant judgement having direct relevance to Prasar Bharati Act were also made.

Supreme Court in its judgement dated 9.2.1995 in the Union of India vs. Cricket Association of Bengal has held that airwaves are public property and a monopoly over broadcasting whether by government or anybody else is inconsistent with the free speech right of the citizens and directed the Government to take immediate steps to establish an independent autonomous public authority representative of all sections and interest in the society to control and regulate the use of airwaves. The Calcutta High Court has in its judgement dated 19.7.75 in Union of India Vs People's Union for Civil Liberties observed that the Central Government should take appropriate steps to give shape to the objectives and ideals of the Prasar Bharati Act as early as possible. Government is at liberty to pass fresh legislation if it deems fit.

The Hon'ble court has further observed that broadcasting media should be under the control of the public as distinct from Government. It should be operated by a public statutory corporation or corporations, as the case may be, whose constitution and composition must be such as to ensure its/their impartiality in political, economic and social matters and on all other public issues.

The Calcutta High Court has in its judgement dated 19.7.75 in Union of India Vs People's Union for Civil Liberties observed that the Central Government should take appropriate steps to give shape to the objectives and ideals of the Prasar Bharati Act as early as possible. Government is at liberty to pass fresh legislation if it deems fit.

In March 1996, Sub-Committee of Consultative Committee of Ministry of I&B headed by Shri Ram Vilas Paswan submitted a Working Paper on National Media Policy. In view of the Supreme Court judgement the Committee noted that there should be a regulatory body to oversee both public and private telecasting/broadcasting. The Sub-Committee noted that the provisions of the Prasar Bharati Act, which was unanimously passed by Parliament in 1990 should be kept in mind while framing the regulatory mechanism which should be an independent autonomous authority.

Subsequently Sen Gupta Committee was set up by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting vide a notification dated 28th December, 1995 under the Chairmanship of Dr. N.K. Sengupta to review the provisions of Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990 and to make recommendations regarding the restructuring of Prasar Bharati. Besides Dr. Sengupta, the other Members are Brig. M.R. Narayanan and Shri Ved Leekha.

In March 1996, Sub-Committee of Consultative Committee of Ministry of I&B headed by Shri Ram Vilas Paswan submitted a Working Paper on National Media Policy. In view of the Supreme Court judgement the Committee noted that there should be a regulatory body to oversee both public and private telecasting/broadcasting. The Sub-Committee noted that the provisions of the Prasar Bharati Act, which was unanimously passed by Parliament in 1990 should be kept in mind while framing the regulatory mechanism which should be an independent autonomous authority.

Subsequently Sen Gupta Committee was set up by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting vide a notification dated 28th December, 1995 under the Chairmanship of Dr. N.K. Sengupta to review the provisions of Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990 and to make recommendations regarding the restructuring of Prasar Bharati. Besides Dr. Sengupta, the other Members are Brig. M.R. Narayanan and Shri Ved Leekha.

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