The government has told the Supreme Court it is against granting of permission to community radio channels and FM radio stations to broadcast news programmes because of a "possible security risk" in the absence of a proper mechanism to monitor such content.
In a sworn affidavit filed in the court recently, the ministry of information and broadcasting cited views expressed by the home ministry that there were several pitfalls to guard against, including the possibility of minds being manipulated by vested interests.
It said the home ministry was of the view that "CRS (community radio stations) operators and private FM operators may not be allowed to broadcast news and current affairs programmes" because of the following reasons:
Broadcasting of news by these stations/channels "may pose a possible security risk as there is no mechanism to monitor the contents of the news bulletins of every such station".
The ministry said these stations/channels were run mainly by NGOs/other small organisations and private operators, and "several anti-national/radical elements within the country" could misuse them for "propagating their own agenda".
"Community radio stations also air programmes involving chats with NRIshe local population settled abroad. These stations may be exploited by foreign radical organisations to broadcast fabricated/radical views of some of these NRIs, as due to the paucity of funds, the radio stations would not be able to afford authentic news sources," the Centre said.
The Centre's affidavit came in response to a recent directive by a bench headed by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar on a public interest plea filed by the NGO Common Cause in 2013.
The plea had questioned the government's logic in not allowing private FM radio stations to broadcast news and current affairs programmes.
According to the Centre, public interest was the predominant consideration for the government while formulating policy guidelines and implementing them.
"News and current affairs programmes on community radios are not allowed in the policy guideline to prevent the possibility of misuse of the platform by vested interests for furthering their designs/agenda," the government said.
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News Source - The Telegraph, Calcutta, India