Broadcast Bill likely in Budget Session

Broadcast Bill likely in Budget Session

The Bill is likely to avoid much-discussed terminologies like “regulation” or “content code” that implies “coercion” from the authorities, but nevertheless will be a regulatory framework of all channels, majority of which are not part of any self-regulatory mechanism developed by bodies floated by some of them, such as News Broadcasters Association (NBA).

“I have given commitment to the Parliament that before the Session ends, I should be able to give a blueprint of the Broadcast Bill,” Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said here on Friday.

“Indian Broadcasting Foundation has a certain code, but there are 500-plus channels in the country, and everybody may not be within the parameters of such a code. We have to have some mechanism to address concerns if things go beyond a certain limit,” she said explaining the need for a body to regulate television content.

Soni said that all channels should ideally have someone to monitor if their programmes are adhering to the provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act.
“There are channels in various centres that do not even come of normal carriage, and some don’t follow the Act while some don’t even have downlinking/ uplinking permission,” she said.

Another issue of concern is the content in some of the reality shows, she said, adding that channels individually as well as collectively should set up a self-regulatory mechanism for reality shows too.

Soni said her ministry had written to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) seeking guidelines on fine-tuning the criteria to give licences to new channels. “Most important is to find out whether the applicant has any experience in media, and whether the applicant is financially sound enough to run a channel,” she said.

All new applications for licence, received post-October when the letter to TRAI was sent, are being kept in abeyance till the Authority gives its views, she said.

TRAI is also looking at the idea of setting up a Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), a body that would give a more comprehensive rating of TV programmes, as opposed to the very limited coverage of private rating agencies TAM and aMap, she said.

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