ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Restoring Fairness

The Supreme Court Verdict on Auctions and Airwaves

Auction as the only method of alienation of spectrum, and other natural resources, is a dangerous trend. It could potentially result in ignoring the welfare and social orientation of many media and communication policies by narrowly interpreting public interest in terms of revenue maximisation and equality in terms of equal access to bidding, which is not the same as equal access to spectrum.

Although free speech can be exercised in myriad ways, the establishment of airwaves as public property can and did go a long way in furthering the right to free speech. Frank La Rue in his seminal report on freedom of expression, notes that access to the means of communication is itself one of the major and important steps to realising the freedom of expression.

In the early 1990s, after India liberalised the media and communication sector, the burden of creating access was shared both by the government and private service providers. Public broadcasting, through radio and television reach most parts of the country, but they continue to remain one-way media, out of reach for most of us in terms of participation.

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