Centre gets notice regarding broadcast media regulation

MUMBAI: The debate regarding the need of an external body to govern broadcast media has been raging since long. It has now reached the Supreme Court via a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Mediawatch.

The SC has taken cognisance of the PIL seeking the establishment of an independent regulatory body to overlook broadcast media and issued a notice to the centre regarding it. The News Broadcasters Association (NBA), Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI) and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) have also been asked to submit their responses.

The order was passed by a bench headed by chief justice P Sathasivam stating that the body is needed as the centre had failed to regulate content for the medium.

The petition said: "For the last one and a half decades, the Ministry of I&B is perpetuating virtual anarchy in the realm of broadcast media regulation. Especially on the content regulation front, its broadcaster-appeasing and wait-and-watch policies marked by sheer ad-hocism and indifference to viewers' interests are adversely affecting the rights of millions of broadcast media consumers. The Ministry as content regulator had failed completely in protecting the interests and basic rights of the audience. It has not constituted sufficient infrastructure and resources to ensure quick decision-making against offending channels and also not imposing deterrent penalties as provided by law.”

The bench agreed to hear the PIL and clubbed it with a similar pending petition. The SC had on 29 November asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Communications and IT as well as the Press Council of India to respond to the PIL asking for guidelines to regulate TV content.

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