Minister of State (Independent Indictment) for Information and Broadcasting, Environment and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has been busy figuring out the different hats he should wear in this government.

He spoke to ET about the Bharatiya Janata Party government’s approach to media, social media, media controls and much more. Edited fragments…

In terms of communication and reporting, the BJP’s election campaign has been called an object lesson in the field. How do you translate that into the government structure?

All government communication needs will be handled in our ministry through a social media hub. I offer this service to all ministers. Their reach through Facebook, Twitter and other social media will be handled by the new media wing and the social media and communication hub.

The advantage the party saw in reaching all communication media was enormous, and it was believed that the government also took advantage of the available platforms. Therefore, this new hub will provide all the help different ministers and ministries need to set up and manage their facebook pages, twitter handles and social media outreach. Traditional media is important, of course, but social media vehicles need to be revamped.

What are your spearheads with regard to this (I&C) ministry?

We need to ensure transparency, make our vehicles more effective. We also want to be accessible and approachable. Now that there is a phase three and phase four of digitization, we will not go into this until we have taken everything into account. The problem is that digitization increases revenue from paid channels, but customers want fewer ads.

Now 11 crore new set-top boxes are required, which is a good reason for indigenization, rather than just importing them. I will discuss with Finance and Trade Ministers how this can be done.

During the elections, an interview with Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised questions about the autonomy of the public broadcaster. How do you deal with this as the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment?

I would like to say right away that our commitment to freedom of the press and the autonomy of the public service broadcaster is absolute. But freedom or autonomy has its own responsibilities.

Media has a responsibility to be neutral and objective. There is always a concern that when the government spends so much it has to reach the public. The public broadcaster is an instrument for public awareness. Having said all that, let me state categorically that we have no plans to enforce controls on the media.

Modi has been described as a “post TV” prime minister, in that he interacts directly with his audience or voter. How would you rearrange the role of the traditional media?

This is a lesson for everyone on how to get your point across like the Prime Minister does. Minister of Law and Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad and I have been delegated as spokespersons for the government and we will soon come up with a communication plan that meets everyone’s needs. This government is different from the way it approaches issues and problems.

For example, Modiji’s design for the cabinet. Yesterday there were some problems related to the environment and power. Piyush Goel has the Electricity, Coal and Renewable Energy portfolio, I have the Environment portfolio, and between the two of us and 10 officials, we sorted out things the previous government had tangled up in a Group of Ministers (GoM) set up. The emphasis is on synergy. There is also something to learn from the new government and its functioning for the media.

This post Our commitment to press freedom and autonomy of the public broadcaster is absolute: Prakash Javadekar

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