New Delhi: Why not allow private radio stations, including community radios, to broadcast news when the same is allowed for television channels, Supreme Court asked the Centre today.
Agreeing to hear a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam questioned as to why the government saw a problem in allowing news broadcast by private radio stations, which would be more accessible for the masses, particularly the poor.
It issued a notice to Centre on a PIL seeking a direction to government for allowing private radio stations, including community radio, to broadcast news.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, pleaded that unlike television channels, none of the 245 private FM channels and 145 community radio stations in the country were allowed to broadcast their own news and current affairs programmes, which was the monopoly of government broadcaster Prasar Bharati.
"You rightly mentioned that radio is accessible to everybody. There is no problem (for government) in case of TV channels," the bench said as it asked Centre to clarify as to why private radio stations should not be allowed to broadcast news.
"India is perhaps the lone democracy where dissemination of news and current affairs programmes on radio remains a monopoly of the government-owned broadcaster, which owns and operates All India Radio/Akashvaani," the NGO said.
Separate guidelines for community and FM radio were "discriminatory" as they imposed "unreasonable restrictions" on the broadcast of news and current affairs programmes by them, especially when TV channels and the print media were not subject to such prohibitions, the NGO said.