Centre for Culture, Media &  Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi (CCMG, henceforth) in collaboration with Academic Staff College, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi conducts and organizes  every year the University Grants Commission Refresher Course  on Media Studies, Culture and Governance for the in-service faculty across the country. The first such RC was organized in February 2013.

The 2nd Refresher Course 2014 on Media Studies and Governance started on 14th January and will continue till 4th February, 2014.

Day 10/ 25 January 2014

Vibodh Parthasarathi, Associate Professor at Centre for Culture, Media and Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi began the day and spoke on “Perspectives on Comparative Media Policy”.  The next speaker, Dr.  Laura Stein, Professor of Sociology at University of Texas at Austin and Fulbright Fellow at CCMG, Jamia Millia Islamia delivered a lecture on “Information and Activism in India”. The day ended with a talk on “Issues on Internet Governance” by Chinmayi Arun of National Law University, Delhi.

1st Lecture: Perspectives on Comparative Media Policy

???????????????????????????????“Perspectives on Comparative Media Policy” was the title of the first lecture of the day, delivered by Vibodh Parthasarathi, Associate Professor at Centre for Culture, Media and Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He made a comparative analysis of media policies between two nation-states, say India and China. The globalization has made the world a village in term of communication. The borders and boundaries are hardly a matter of concern here. The problem emerged with transnational broadcasting, with one company based in country A is also functioning in country B. The ways in which, both the nation-states controlled and regulated broadcast is a matter of study.

India maintained a distance from the private broadcasters. On the other hand, China provided a parallel space for private broadcasters along with the state controlled broadcaster CCTV. China also provided relative autonomy to establish stations and raise its resources. It marched towards commercialization through cable operations. The television in India began with motive of instructional and educational purpose. Later, it in way towards commercialization started selling airtime to private players. Further it decentralized its operation by initiating regional transmission and programming in language of certain states. In early Nineties, India discouraged cable operation. Further it also had loss of revenue from multiplying channels.

???????????????????????????????On the other hand the nature of public broadcaster in China did not change; it remained as inert as before. China was not interested in broadcasting. It has allowed foreign programmes for domestic viewers, and also acquired access to foreign markets for its own programme. China used its media policy as currency in global world, as in order to join World Trade Organization in 2001, it opened gates for domestic and foreign broadcasters but rides pillion on global broadcasters to push domestic programmes abroad.

In India, the Supreme Court asserted that airwaves are not sole property of government; the market was opened for private players too. With this also came Cable Television Network Regulatory Act and Tax system for cable operators. There is now cross-sectional reform in cable and terrestrial mode of broadcast. The policies are devised to make television more accountable in terms of broadcast and distribution. In order to achieve this, the process is going on by converting the analogue system into digital one, through the direct to home connections or making set top boxes mandatory for cable TV service users. The arguments for adopting DTH service are that it has better technical quality and it offers multiplicity of services. The whole logic of digitizing the broadcast lies in the fact that, the public broadcaster Door Darshan uses 700-800 band frequency in terrestrial mode, once it gets digitized it ceases to use that frequency, which could be used for other services. Further it will be easier to monitor the telecast, licensing and viewership of channels, which will subsequently increase the tax net and decrease the fiscal deficit.

 2nd Lecture :  Information and Activism in India

???????????????????????????????Dr.  Laura Stein, Professor of Sociology at University of Texas at Austin and Fulbright Fellow at CCMG, Jamia Millia Islamia delivered a lecture on “Information and Activism in India”. According to Dr. Stein, Information activism is about dispersal and use of information for social change. In recent times there has been a rise in information societies and information activism. In order to gauge the emergence of information activism one has to look at scholarship in communication studies and social movement studies.

One should be aware of the fact that information activism is not all about technology. The Right to Information Act of 2005 has given rise to the RTI movement in India. The RTI Act is very much user-friendly and affordable in comparison to the Freedom of Information Act in the US, where it is very expensive and mainly used by experts like lawyers and policy makers.

So far as the ‘philosophy of information’ is concerned, the term ‘information activism’ is a vague and elusive concept. The ‘activists’ are using technology for social change, by coordinating online, but it is still a decentralized faction having loose affiliation. For example, the websites of these organized groups are not maintained on high priority. The webmasters or technicians are employed on ad-hoc basis. Further, the activists don’t have time and resources for these things. This is also an overlooked phenomenon, as information is important for the democratic and environmental soundness, for day to day conduct of life.

???????????????????????????????According to Luciano Floridi, there are three processes of approach in social movement in order to engage in information and communication:  symbolic framing, resource mobilization and political opportunity approach. There may be different definitions of information but information is a well-formed, meaningful and truthful data. There are values encoded in information. The most important question is: what one is going to do with information? What would be the relevance of information?  How long it is going to be relevant?

The knowledge is required to interpret the information as knowledge and information are foundation of society.  It is bestows power to describe the world as it is, by knowing and serving reality. The information influences decision-making as it has stake in informal power configuration. Let’s take the example of Environmental Movement; hundred years ago, nature was something to be exploited but hundred years later there are demands in favour of nature to sustain. So we can see communication as symbolic frame of reality although it is constructed but it always has values in it. Association for Democratic Reform in New Delhi is a non- government organization working on political and election reform.  Its main objectives is to decriminalize politics, that they do by publishing  information on financial, criminal and educational background of politicians contesting election as declared by them on an affidavit while submitting their documents for election nomination. By doing so they have in a way helped bring down number of candidates of criminal background being elected.

3rd  Lecture :  Issues on Internet Governance

???????????????????????????????Dr. Chinmayi Arun of National Law University Delhi spoke on “Issues on Internet Governance”. She began her talk with simple question: how many people present in the lecture hall don’t use internet. The answer to this question was very obvious that, in present time it is impossible to find anybody who do not use internet. Internet is being used in form of e-mail, social networking, chatting, news, films, banking, etc.

The basic use of internet does not demand literacy at all. In the internet the technology is the architect. The internet through its dos and don’ts controls and regulates the users’ behavior. For example, there is no ‘dislike’ button/option on Facebook, one is bound to like or ignore any post on FB. The main point to ponder is that, if there is no such thing called ‘free lunch’, then why we are getting so much stuff on internet literally free. Well! We are revealing our identity on internet as payment. Now all the major websites are owned by giant corporations like Microsoft, Google or Yahoo. These are monitoring our likes and preferences and in a way providing us options and varieties to modify or enhance our preferences by regular advertisement on the pages of social networking and mail sites.

???????????????????????????????Most importantly, all these organizations are based in the United Sates. They do adhere to the host nation’s norms and censors but most of the time they get benefit of the weak cyber laws in different countries. There has been a demand to have a transnational internet governing organization, the International Telecommunication Union is meant for that purpose but it cannot control all the internet operation worldwide. All websites are registered on Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN), an organization based in the United States in a way that if one breaks the server code of any specific website, it cannot be accessed further. For example, wikileaks.org which is in the internet worldwide web but is inaccessible due to server code blockage. Jon Postel, founder of ICANN, proved the helplessness of ITC by redirecting all the seven root servers of internet operation towards his choice of control. In short, the need of time is be aware of the surveillance one is subjected to on the internet.