Television

Convergence Committee says content should be brought under Broadcasting Bill

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The Sub-Group on Convergence headed by senior legal professional Fali Nariman, in its interim report, has recommended that so far as content of information is concerned, it is to be dealt with in the new Broadcasting Bill. Since Webcasting was not covered in the existing IT Bill of 1999, it suggests that the proposed Broadcasting Bill willl have to be revised to reflect advances and developnment of technology and internet which has made Webcasting possible.

It has recommended that the structural framework of the 1885 Indian Telegraph Act be retained as the New Telecom Policy has said that carriage of information should be left as open as possible. Any act should be enabling and it has suggested that a new Telecommunications Act be drawn up for the convergence era while the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 be repealed.

The sub-group has obtained views from consumers, industry, bulk users, security agencies and private telecom players during discussions with Department of Telecommunications. At the end of it all, the subgroup has defined who has the power to establish and maintain telecom, the obligations of service providers, the right of way, message interception, and dispute settlements.

The report claims to have been influenced by the major events taken place following the announcement of New Telecom Policy NTP, 1999 which includes the firm resolve of the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry to introduce a Broadcasting Bill in the next session of Parliament. The Bill will be on the lines of the Broadcasting Bill of 1997 which had lapsed on account of dissolution of Lok Sabha. Substantial ammendments will be made in the new bill to cover the entire content aspect of broadcasting including provisions for setting up of a seperate regulatory Authority.

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