Centre for Internet & Society

Gurshabad Grover and Torsha Sarkar along with Rajashri Seal and Neil Trivedi co-authored a paper that examined the constitutionality of the government prohibition on the broadcast of news against private and community FM channels.

In the article, the authors also mapped chronologically the history of the development of community and private radio channels in India. As part of the legal analysis, the authors examined the prohibition on the touchstones of existing Indian jurisprudence on media freedom and speech rights. Finally, they also utilized some key points made by the Additional Solicitor General in the Shreya Singhal case, to propose an alternative regulatory framework that would address both the interests of the radio channels and the government.

In 1995, the Supreme Court declared airwaves to be public property in the seminal case of The Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting v Cricket Association of Bengal, and created the stepping stones for liberalization of broadcasting media from government monopoly. Despite this, community radio and private FM channels, in their nearly two decades of existence, have been unable to broadcast their own news content because of the Government’s persisting prohibition on the same.In this paper, we document the historical developments surrounding the issue, and analyse the constitutional validity of this prohibition on the touchstone of the existing jurisprudence on free speech and media freedom. Additionally, we also propose an alternative regulatory framework which would assuage the government’s apprehensions regarding radicalisation through radio spaces, as well as ensure that the autonomy of these stations is not curtailed.

Click to download the full paper by NLUD Journal of Legal Studies here.

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