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Mamata govt's decision to take over 2 channels may hit roadblock

Mamata govt's decision to take over 2 channels may hit roadblock

Mamata Banerjee had said that 168 employees of the channels would get an ex-gratia of Rs 16,000 each from this month.

New Delhi: The West Bengal government's decision to take over two channels owned by scam-tainted Saradha Group which were facing closure may hit the roadblock as present guidelines do not allow state governments to run TV channels. "At present no proposal has come to us from the state government but as per the present set of guidelines state governments are not allowed to run television channels," a senior Information & Broadcasting Ministry official said.

"States are not companies which be running channels. As per the rules to be into broadcasting, the entity in question has to be registered as a company," the official added. The official also said that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had earlier in their recommendations strongly held that governments should not be allowed to enter into broadcasting.

The ministry has in the past rejected proposals from at least three state governments - Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat - related to entry into broadcasting and distribution activities. Earlier on Thursday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced her government's decision to take over the two channels - Tara News and Tara Muzic - following an appeal by their employees seeking government intervention.

She said that 168 employees of the channels would get an ex-gratia of Rs 16,000 each from this month and the state government would provide Rs 26 lakh from the chief minister's relief fund on humanitarian grounds to run the channels. However, it would not take the liability of the channels which amounted to Rs 6 crore, she had said.