Govt sets up panel to address TV viewers' grievances

Govt sets up panel to address TV viewers' grievances

The 13-member Council, to be headed by former Delhi High Court Justice A P Shah, will start functioning from the first week of June, a top official of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry told Deccan Herald. The council will deal with the complaints relating to contents telecast by non-news channels,  which include general entertainment, current affairs, children's and special programmes.

A self-regulatory guideline along with grievance redressal mechanism through the BCCC, formulated by Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) for the non-news channels, will also come into effect together with the Council.

The complaint redressal mechanism will be a two-tier process, providing a viewer to lodge his or her complain first to the broadcaster/channel. The compliant, however, should be lodged within one week of the telecast of the offending programme.

Under the IBF guidelines, broadcaster will have to set up a special cell with a content auditor as its head to deal with complaints received from viewers or any other body. The content auditor will be responsible for replying to the complaint with a copy to the BCCC within a week of the complaint filed.

In case the viewer receives unsatisfactory response from the broadcaster's side, the complainant can approach the BCCC directly.

The Council will then take cognizance of the matter and if the broadcaster is found guilty, it will take necessary steps including issue of warning. The council can also ask broadcaster to run an apology on the channel or recommend suspension of license of the broadcaster. “Grievances have to be addressed within three weeks, the ministry official said.

In case, the BCCC’s directive remain unheard by the broadcasters, the complaint could also be forwarded to Inter Ministerial Council for suitable action and recommendation, the official added.

The 13-member Council will include four members of IBF, four eminent citizens from civil society besides members from National Commission for Women, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and National Commission for Scheduled Castes as its permanent members.

Statutory bodies like National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes will also be the members of the committee as per the nature of complaints, ministry official said.

“The ministry records as many as 300 channels 24x7. The recorded clips can be used as evidence while dealing with the viewer’s complaints,” he added.