September 19, 2023

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Since ’21, govt acted in 102 cases involving pvt TV channels, SC told | India News

2 min read

The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it initiated action against private TV channels in 102 instances between 2021 and July 31, 2023. In 2021, the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, were amended to provide for a statutory mechanism to strengthen the grievance redress structure for programmes on TV channels.

These 102 instances includes 22 advisories to specific channels, six common advisories, 29 warnings, 43 orders to run apology scrolls, and one order each to go off-air and to issue disclaimer, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said in an affidavit filed before the SC.

These actions were on the basis of recommendations of the Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) constituted under the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2021.

The committee is headed by Additional Secretary, I&B Ministry, and comprises officers drawn from Union ministries of Women & Child Development, Home Affairs, Electronics & IT, External Affairs, and Defence to hear complaints regarding violation of Programme Code and Advertising Code.

The affidavit stated that non-official members (domain experts) are also included in the IDC. The court is hearing a plea by the News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) — an association of news, current affairs and digital broadcasters — against certain critical remarks by Bombay High Court regarding the self-regulatory mechanism for the media.

On the regulatory framework before June 2021, the Centre stated that an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) was formed in April 2005 under the Additional Secretary of the ministry to look into complaints of violation of the programme/advertising code.

The IMC, after vetting the complaints, would make recommendations to the ministry.

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According to the affidavit, action was initiated on the IMC’s recommendations in 476 cases between 2005 and 2021: 111 cases in which specific advisories were issued to channels; 76 instances where common advisories/directives were issued; 174 warnings; 75 orders to run apology scrolls; 39 off-air orders; and one cancellation of permission.

During this period, there was also self-regulation by the channels through the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council set up by the Indian Broadcasting Federation and News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) set up by the News Broadcasting Association (NBA).

The Centre said it has “always protected journalistic freedom and encouraged the policy of promoting self-restraint and self-regulation in the field of journalism…to ensure that (i) media houses and journalists [institutional or freelancers] in the country acknowledge their vital role and responsibilities towards society and elevate their responsibilities standards of practice though self-devised methods; and to ensure that there is minimum interference of government authorities in the arena of journalism and in only extreme cases…”

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