So­cial Me­dia Hub to Ser­vice All Min­istries

Our com­mit­ment for press free­dom, and the au­ton­omy of pub­lic broad­cast is ab­so­lute. But free­dom has its own re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Me­dia has to be neu­tral

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Min­is­ter of state (in­de­pen­dent charge) for in­for­ma­tion and broad­cast­ing, en­vi­ron­ment and cli­mate change Prakash Javadekar has been busy sort­ing out the var­i­ous hats he's ex­pected to wear in this govern­ment. He spoke to Nistula Hebbar on the Bharatiya Janata Party govern­ment’s ap­proach to­wards me­dia, so­cial me­dia, me­dia con­trols and much more. Edited ex­cerpts... In terms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and mes­sag­ing, the BJP’s elec­toral cam­paign has been termed an ob­ject les­son in the field. How can you trans­late that into the gov­ern­men­tal struc­ture? All com­mu­ni­ca­tion needs of the govern­ment will be han­dled in our min­istry through a so­cial me­dia hub. I am of­fer­ing this ser­vice to all min­is­ters. Their face­book, twit­ter and other so­cial me­dia out­reach will be han­dled by the new me­dia wing, and the so­cial me­dia and com­mu­ni­ca­tion hub. The ad­van­tage that the party saw in reach­ing out through all com­mu­ni­ca­tion me­dia has been tremen­dous, and it was felt that the govern­ment too use the avail­able plat­forms.

There­fore, this new hub will pro­vide all the help needed by var­i­ous min­is­ters and min­istries for set­ting up and op­er­at­ing their Face­book pages, Twit- ter han­dles and the out­reach through­so­cial me­dia. Tra­di­tional me­dia is im­por­tant, of course, but so­cial me­dia ve­hi­cles have to be spruced up. What are your pri­or­ity ar­eas as far as this (I&B) min­istry is con­cerned? We have to en­sure trans­parency, make our ve­hi­cles more ef­fec­tive. We want to be ac­ces­si­ble and ac­count­able too. Now there is a stage three and stage four of digi­ti­sa­tion, we will take a call on this only af­ter tak­ing all things into ac­count. The is­sue is that digi­ti­sa­tion in­creases the rev­enue of paid chan­nels, but cus­tomers want fewer ad- ver­tise­ments. Now 11 crore new set­top boxes are re­quired, which pro­vides a great case for in­di­geni­sa­tion, rather than just im­port them. I will take it up with the fi­nance and com­merce min­is­ters on how this could be done. Dur­ing the elec­tions, an in­ter­view of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi set off ques­tions on the au­ton­omy of the pub­lic broad­caster. As I&B min­is­ter, how will you deal with it? Right off the bat, I would like to say that our com­mit­ment for press free­dom, and the au­ton­omy of pub­lic broad­cast is ab­so­lute. But free­dom or au­ton­omy has its own re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Me­dia has the re­spon­si­bil­ity of be­ing neu­tral and ob­jec­tive. There's al­ways a con­cern that when the govern­ment is spend­ing so much, it must reach the pub­lic. The pub­lic broad­caster is a tool for pub­lic aware­ness. Hav­ing said all of this, let me cat­e­gor­i­cally state that we have no plans to en­force con­trols on the me­dia. This is a les­son for ev­ery­one on how to put your point across, in the way the Prime Min­is­ter does. Min­is­ter for law and com­mu­ni­ca­tions Ravi Shankar Prasad and I have been de­puted as spokesper­sons for the govern­ment and we will shortly come up with a com­mu­ni­ca­tions plan to suit ev­ery­one's needs. This govern­ment is dif­fer­ent from the way it ap­proaches is­sues and prob­lems. For in­stance, Modiji’s de­sign for the Cab­i­net. Yes­ter­day, there were some is­sues re­lated to en­vi­ron­ment and power. Piyush Goel holds the power, coal and re­new­able en­ergy port­fo­lio, I hold the en­vi­ron­ment port­fo­lio, and be­tween the two of us and 10 of­fi­cials we sorted things which the pre­vi­ous govern­ment had tied up in knots in a Group of Min­is­ters (GoM) set up.

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