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Kerala wants own TV channel, Centre says against law

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SummaryThe cash-strapped UDF government in Kerala has decided to launch its own satellite television channel, but the Union government has indicated that state governments cannot have TV channels

The cash-strapped UDF government in Kerala has decided to launch its own satellite television channel, but the Union government has indicated that state governments cannot have TV channels.

In March, state Finance Minister K M Mani had announced in the Assembly that the state government’s information and public relations department would run a TV channel. As a sequel to it, the government last week appointed senior journalist Sunnikutty Abraham as the chief executive officer of the proposed channel. Abraham had been the CEO with Congress-backed Jaihind TV.

An official release said Kerala Public Relations Minister K C Joseph would be the chairman and Public Relations Director M Firoz the convener of the coordinating committee.

Two others, including a former scribe with Congress daily Veekshanam, were also made the members of the committee. The channel was meant to give publicity for government programmes.

However, Union Information and Broadcasting Secretary Uday Kumar Varma on Monday said in Delhi the existing regulations did not allow a state government to own or operate a television channel.

Asked whether the Union government was planning to allow governments or political parties to run television channels, new Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said whatever the law currently ordains would be allowed and whatever is not permitted under law “should not be done”.

Varma, however, was more specific. He said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had made very clear recommendations saying “state owned bodies, including governments” cannot own or run television channels.

The guidelines pertaining to uplinking or downloading of television signals also makes it clear that the licensee has to be a registered company.

“The licensee cannot be a state government or other state-owned bodies according to the current legal provisions,” he said.

(With ENS Delhi)

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