The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has amended the Cable Television Network Rules,1994
- The cable television network rule 1994 amended for regulating Cable TV networks, providing for a “statutory” mechanism for complaints raised by citizens regarding any content broadcast.
- This will bring the television’s self-regulatory mechanism at par with that being set-up for OTT players and digital news publishers, as envisaged in the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, issued in February.
- Apart from the broadcaster-led OTT platforms coming together to rename Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) to Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) to create a self-regulatory body, and other major players creating a self-regulatory body under Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the ministry has also received proposals from smaller players in Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar to set-up their self-regulatory bodies.
- A viewer can file a complaint directly to the broadcaster, who will have to respond within 15 days.
- If the complainant is not satisfied with the response, the complaint can be escalated to the self-regulating bodies set up by TV channels, which should deal with the case in 60 days.
- Such appeals will be dealt with by the Inter-Departmental Committee set up under the Oversight Mechanism.
Composition of the committee:
The committee will be headed by the Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and have members from various ministries.
Powers of the committee:
- Recommend the Centre to advise, issue a warning, censure, admonish or reprimand a broadcaster, or seek an apology.
- Ask the broadcaster to include a warning card or a disclaimer, or to delete or modify content, or take the channel or a programme off-air for a specified time period, where it is satisfied that such action is warranted.
Significance of the new rules:
- It paves the way “for a strong institutional system for redressing grievances.
- It places accountability and responsibility on the broadcasters and their self-regulating bodies.
About the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995:
- The law prescribes imprisonment up to two years or fine up to ₹1,000 or both for the first offence, and imprisonment up to five years and with fine up to ₹5,000 if any media governed under the CTN Act violates the provisions and the “Programme Code”.
- The code, which contains an elaborate list of don’ts for cable TV channels, states that no programme should be aired that contains anything obscene, defamatory, false, and suggests innuendos and half-truths.
The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2011
- The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2011 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on November 28, 2011 by Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting. The Bill amends the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, and repeals the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Ordinance, 2011.
Section 20 of the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, states that the government can regulate or prohibit the transmission or retransmission of any programme that it feels is not in conformity with the Programme and Advertising Code, which oversees television content in India.
- However, since there is no body to pre-certify content for TV, potentially problematic programmes only come to notice once they have been aired.
- The Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC), under the I&B Ministry, monitors the content telecast on private TV channels to check if they adhere to the Programme and Advertising Code.
- Specific complaints on code violations are looked into by an inter-ministerial committee (IMC).
Rule 6 of the Cable TV Network Rules:
It is also the responsibility of the channel to ensure its programmes are not violative of the programme code, laid down in Rule 6 of the Cable TV Network Rules.
- Sub-section ‘c’ of Rule 6 specifically mentions that programmes that contain attacks on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes should not be carried in the cable service.