Speaking at the inaugural session of the All India Editors' Conference on social and infrastructure issues here today, she said that though the Act had been amended several times between 1870 and 1983, there was need to make it more contemporary.
She said her Ministry has convened a conference of state information ministers (SIMCON) early next month in New Delhi to discuss various issues relating to media.
Referring to the critical role played by the media in a democracy, Soni said while the media has to act as a watchdog, it also has a responsibility to create awareness about the positive developments that are taking place across the country, especially in the border areas and other remote and inaccessible areas. She said inspiring incidents of raw courage must be highlighted by the media. She said it is important to profile people who overcome adversities against all odds with fortitude and courage. Soni urged the media to devote just 5 per cent of news time or print to highlight such human success stories everyday.
Listing the initiatives taken by the Ministry in Jammu & Kashmir, Soni said one of the highest priorities is to improve the quality of TV and radio transmission and increase the broadcast coverage in the state. She said a provision of Rs 1000 million had been made in the current financial year for setting up High Power TV Transmitters in the border areas of the state and Lower Power FM Transmitters in uncovered areas of the state. She said under the scheme, three High Power (FM&TV) Transmitters are to be set up at Sirpath, Jasrota Top and Khalsar in Kashmir, Jammu and Leh region respectively. One FM Transmitter would be provided at Naushera and one TV Transmitter for DD-1 and DD-News at Rajouri. Low Power FM Transmitters at four locations are also to be set up. It is also proposed to open up more towns to private FM channels with special incentives for border areas under the new FM Phase III policy, which is on the anvil.
Soni said a new Doordarshan Studio at Leh is expected to be completed during 2010. She said a revamp of the programmes is under way for DD Kashir channel and new programmes produced and executed by young people of the state are expected to be available from 1 January 2010. She said Rs 146.4 million have been allocated for DD Kashir's commissioned programmes in 2009-10.
The Minister also referred to the employment generation potential in the media industry and said in States like Jammu & Kashmir, employment for the youth is of crucial importance and recognizing the need her ministry has recently offered setting up of another center of Indian Institute of Mass Communication in J&K. She said she had requested chief minister Omar Abdullah to earmark four to seven acres of land, free of cost, for this purpose.
Inaugurating the conference, Abdullah urged media to write facts about the state by visiting areas outside main cities like Srinagar to know the reality and interact with common masses to get the correct feed back.
New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah in his speech urged the media to give progress made by the state due prominence with facts and figures. Minority Affairs and Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Tara Chand also graced the inaugural session.
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