Then there are 127 regional bulletins in 62 languages. In the external air service, bulletins in 67 languages and dialects are broadcast every day. Besides, there are sports bulletins, special bulletins, weather and Parliament bulletins. There are hosts of other, very useful bulletins, commentaries and broadcasts to cover events, people, news, and views of national and international importance.
Yuvak Vain is a programme for the youth of the nation, by the young men and women of the country, between the ages of 15 and 30. For school students most of the AIR stations have regular programmes, based on their school curriculum. Students of degree courses are also provided support and service on the air by many stations. Rural and agricultural programmes in various Indian languages and dialects are broadcast daily for the benefit of small and marginal farmers, agricultural labourers and others in the villages. Thus, radio in India has taken giant strides in these years.
Television came to India in 1959, with three days a week limited transmission. However, from 1965 these became regular. Since 1976 when Doordarshan came into being, it has emerged as a very powerful and effective means of mass communication. It has seen a phenomenal growth of installation of one transmitter a day in 1984 and after. A vast network of over 350 transmitters of the Doordarshan now reaches an estimated 80% of our population.
The popularity of television is on the increase and soon it will cover the entire population of our country. In order to cater to the wide interests of large sections of our population, more channels are being added and introduced. The introduction of the Metro channel in 1984 in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai has been historical. Now, it is available in many cities and towns.
The services of Doordarshan for school and university education have helped a lot in the promotion of education and training. The satellite communication has really revolutionised the means of mass communication and information. The radio and television broadcasts via satellites have made communication instant and universal. It has turned the whole world into a global village.
Now viewers have access to more and greater selection of viewing on T.V. The implications of satellite communication are really very complex, varied and far-reaching. It has its own inherent strengths and weaknesses, which are unfolding with the passage of time. But it is beyond any shadow of doubt that satellite communication will go a long way in helping a developing country like India in overcoming its many socioeconomic problems and in the achievement of development goals. The influence of films on Indian masses, means of mass communication, has been vast and abiding. The popularity of films is unquestionable. Hundreds of feature films and documentaries are made every year in India.
Our film industry is one of the biggest in the world. In spite to its commercialism, its appeal and popularity is vast, abiding and immediate. It has tremendous possibilities but we should see to it that its box office aspects are not allowed to run riot.
The Indian film industry should not forget its social and moral obligations. The industry should be precise, clear and sure about its scope, purpose and objectives. Similarly, the government should have no aphorism in respect to its policy in regard to the control, purpose and regulation of the industry. The multiplicity of authorities, which have a say in the industry, should be removed so as to provide healthy growth to the film industry. Moreover, censorship should be more liberal in its approach to films produced and screened. But filmmakers should avoid too much sex and violence in their films. They should aim at healthy entertainment and desirable social and cultural change through this popular means of communication.
Freedom of speech and expression is very significant in a democracy. It includes the freedom of the films, the press, and broadcasting, etc. In other words, freedom of speech and expression means autonomy of the media. But autonomy also involves greater accountability.
It means that there should be no loss of credibility. But commercialisation of mass media without proper safeguards can be dangerous. There is a lot of money in different media and there is the possibility of misuse of the media for personal gains.
Autonomy of mass media is desirable but it is also desirable that it is self-regulatory and self-disciplined so as not to come into pressures and that it fulfills its commitments to values and ideals enshrined in our Constitution. Rights and duties go together. No autonomy, more specifically that of media, can have desirable objectives until and unless there are proper checks and balances to prevent its abuse. Therefore, it is essential that before granting autonomy to the electronic mass media, all its aspects are taken into consideration. In this context, the Prasad Bharati Bill 1989 comes to mind. It has tried to analyse different aspects of the matter in detail. The Supreme Court judgment asking the Central Government to establish an independent public authority to control and regulate the use of electronic media is a welcome decision.
It implies that freedom of speech applies not just to the print but also to the electronic media. This judgment marks a new, bold and significant beginning in liberating electronic media from government control and monopoly.