Television

Govt proposing to set up separate disputes tribunal for broadcast content

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NEW DELHI: The government is proposing to set up a separate disputes tribunal for broadcast content on the lines of Telecom Disputes Settlement And Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) as part of a comprehensive content regulation framework.

The proposed organisation, likely to be called Content Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal, would have the powers as vested under the Code of Civil Procedures, 1908, but not totally bound by it.

The content disputes tribunal would take up issues brought to it by aggrieved parties, including those who feel unfair treatment has been meted out by the proposed Content Regulatory Authority of India.

The structure of these two organizations are based on the functioning of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and TDSAT, which oversee telecom services, including broadcast and cable services at the moment.

The idea of creating a separate content disputes tribunal is based on feedback that the government has had from industry stakeholders and industry bodies like the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

As in the case of TDSAT, any appeal against content disputes tribunal’s orders can be made only in the Supreme Court. The government is also proposing to put a penalty on flouting the appellate tribunal’s order’s, which can go up to Rs 50 million.

Programming scheduling TV channel’s responsibility

Meanwhile, as per a draft of content code being considered in the I&B ministry, the onus of proper scheduling of programming would rest with a licensee.

“(The) licensee should take care that the time when minors are expected to be viewing the programmes, i.e. between 4 pm to 7 pm, the Broadcasting Code should be strictly followed,” a draft of the code states, stressing clearly on greater degree of self-regulation on the part of TV channels.

However, as pr another suggestion to the ministry, the restrictions on the provision of material unsuitable on television programmes for children should be relaxed on a gradual and progressive basis after 7 pm.

The assumption is that after 7 pm parents may reasonably be expected to share responsibility for what their children are permitted to watch on television.

The proposed content regulator is also unlikely to preview or pre-censor any TV programme, including films on television. It should be a licensee’s responsibility to ensure that the viewers are aware of the classification of the films broadcast on the television.

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