He spoke to ET about the Bharatiya Janata Party government’s attitude towards media, social media, media control and much more.
Edited part …
In terms of communication and messaging, the BJP’s election campaign has been called an object lesson on the ground. How can you translate into official structures?
All communication needs of the government will be handled through a social media hub in our ministry. I am offering this service to all ministers. Their Facebook, Twitter and other social media outreach will be managed by the new Media Wing and Social Media and Communication Hub.
The advantage that the team saw in reaching out through all means of communication was remarkable and it was felt that the government also used the available platforms. Therefore, this new hub will provide various ministers and ministers with all the necessary support to set up and manage outreach through their Facebook pages, Twitter handles and social media. Traditional media is important, of course, but social media vehicles need to be further developed.
What are your priority areas for this (I&B) ministry?
We need to ensure transparency, we need to make our vehicles more efficient. We want to be accessible and accountable. Now that Digitization has Phase Three and Stage Four, we will take this into consideration. The problem is that digitization increases paid channel revenue, but consumers want less advertising.
Now 11 crore new set-top boxes are needed, which provides a great case for domestication rather than import. I will talk to the finance and trade ministers about how this can be done.
During the election, an interview with Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised questions about the autonomy of the public broadcaster. As I&B Minister, how do you deal with this?
With the bat in hand, I would like to say that our commitment to the freedom of the press and the autonomy of public broadcasting is absolute. But independence or autonomy has its own responsibilities.
The media has a responsibility to be neutral and objective. There is always a concern that when the government is spending so much, it has to reach out to the people. The public broadcaster is a tool of public awareness. Having said that, I would like to make it clear that we have no plans to regulate the media.
Modi has been described as a “post TV” prime minister, trying to reach out directly to his viewers or voters. How do you recreate the role of traditional media?
This is a lesson for everyone in the way the Prime Minister will present your speech. Law and Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and I have been appointed as the spokesperson of the government and we will soon come up with a communication plan as per the needs of all. This is different from the way the government is moving towards issues and problems.
For example, Modiji’s design for the cabinet. Yesterday there were some issues related to environment and electricity. Piyush Goel has a portfolio of power, coal and renewable energy, I have a portfolio of the environment, and between the two of us and 10 officials we arranged things that were set up in a group of previous government ministers (GoM). Emphasis is placed on coordination. The media will also have something to learn from the new government and its effectiveness.