Cable TV

News broadcasters to form association

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NEW DELHI: After the Indian Broadcast Federation (IBF - representing broadcasters) and the Indian Media Group (IMG - representing Indian media companies), Indian news broadcasters are forming their own "pressure group".

The proposed body is likely to be called the News Broadcasters Association of India. It will comprise only Indian-promoted news ventures. The likes of BBC and CNN have their own set of problems and issues and, hence, would not be part of this new proposed body that is likely to be registered soon.

The agenda that the body has broadly laid out is to address specific news-related issues and take them up with the government. Everybody remains a member of the IBF, but as the IBF cannot take up specific issues, TV news networks have formed their own association.

The first meeting of the grouping was held last week in Delhi in TV Today office. No office-bearers have been elected as yet though.

Admitted a news broadcaster, "We felt our specific needs and issues need to be addressed without confusing them with general (broadcasting) matters. That's what the intention is behind setting up the News Broadcasters Association of India."

An example of the kind of issues that news broadcasters might take up include the draft of the Broadcast Bill, recently prepared by a sub-panel of a 30-member committee overseen by I&B secretary SK Arora, which hints at stringent content regulation, particularly for news channels. If okayed by lawmakers in its present state, it could well be the end of sting operations and coverage of issues where high profile politicians and personalities are involved.

Sample this part: "TV channels must not use material relating to a person's personal or private affairs or which invades an individual's privacy unless there is an identifiable public interest reason for the material to be broadcast." Who decides what constitutes an individual's privacy? The government or the regulator? What this means of course is that it's all up for interpretation.

It is this scope for interpretation that has news broadcasters seriously concerned. More so since the onus of proving identifiable public interest lies with the TV channel and not the other way round.

The interests of the print media are addressed and protected by the Indian Newspaper Association. That is the role the News Broadcasters Association of India hopes to fulfil as far as the electronic media is concerned.

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