Television

News b'casters form association to confront issues in radio & TV

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NEW DELHI: Clearly not satisfied by the clarification issued by the government regarding the Content Code, major news broadcasters in the country have formed the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) to address problems specific to radio and television news broadcasters.

The broadcasters who got together to form the NBA are TV Today Network (Aaj Tak, Headlines Today, Delhi Aajtak and Tez), NDTV Limited (NDTV24x7, NDTV India and NDTV Profit), Times Global Broadcasting Company (Times Now), TV 18 Group (CNBC TV18, CNBC Awaaz, CNN-IBN and IBN7), Media Content and Communication Services (Star News, Star Ananda and Star Majha), Independent News Service (India TV) and Zee News Ltd (Zee News, Zee Business, Zee 24 Taas and 24 Ghanta).

Registered as a Section 25 company under the Companies Act, the Association is headquartered in Delhi. It held its first Board Meeting on 25 July to elect its Board and office-bearers for 2007-08.

The Board members are:TV Today Network executive director and CEO G Krishnan, Global Broadcast News joint MD Sameer Manchanda, NDTV group CEO K.V.L. Narayan Rao, Times Now CEO Sunil Lulla, India TV CEO Chintamani Rao, Zee News CEO Harish Doraiswamy and Star India COO Uday Shanker.

The office-bearers elected for 2007-08 are: G. Krishnan, president, Sameer Manchanda, vice-president, and K.V.L. Narayan Rao, honorary treasurer. Annie Joseph has been appointed secretary general.

Meanwhile, Krishnan told Indiantelevision.com that it was erroneous to conclude that the Association had only been formed to oppose the Content Code.

In fact, he said, the Association had been set up to address issues that are specific to news broadcasters in radio and television who work in a 24x7 environment and cannot necessarily be addressed by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation.

Answering a question, he said he would only be too happy to have DD News as a member of the Association.

Referring to questions about the Content Code, he said the government should leave this matter to the stakeholders. This was a matter of self-regulation and not of policing, and the government should realize that those running news channels are mature and seasoned broadcasters who will take care of the sensibilities of the people.

A press statement said the vision of NBA is to help create and nurture an environment in which news broadcasters can best serve audiences and also engage with policy makers on behalf of its members in order to promote an industry grounded in the principles of democracy and freedom of expression. This initiative will help to further promote the broadcaster?s role as an important contributor to the country?s cultural, social and economic fabric.

The NBA will help members to chart a course that facilitates news broadcasters in responding to the rapid socio-economic changes in the country, and in taking advantage of the opportunities ushered in by economic growth as well as new technology. To this end the NBA will concern itself with ethical, technical, operational, regulatory and legal issues affecting news and current affairs channels.

Earlier this week, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in a background note emphasized that the Code would not be imposed on broadcasters or advertisers and would be implemented through a three-tier mechanism separate and distinct from the Government.

The Code, which is facing strong opposition particularly from news broadcasters, has been put on the Ministry's website www.mib.nic.in for public and stakeholders' comments to be sent in by 5 August. The Code will form part of the Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill which the Government wants to introduce shortly.

The note said the mechanism was intended to ensure that the complaints of the public were addressed and broadcasters and advertisers keep the viewing and listening needs of the public in view when designing programmes.

In the first tier, there will be a content auditor to be appointed internally by each channel who would be responsible for pre-viewing of the content to be broadcast. He would also be the point of contact for complaints in relation to any programme or advertisement.

At the second level, there would be the evaluation of the content in cases of complaint by Consumer Complaints Committees to be set up by a peer body like the Advertising Standards Council of India, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation, and the News Broadcasters Association, or any organization as may be notified by the Central Government.

The lodging of grievances at these two levels is expected to take care of public grievances regarding content, and broadcasters/advertisers would themselves make suitable modifications in future content.

It is only when they fail to do so or a complainant aggrieved with the order of the Consumer Complaints Committee files an appeal that the role of the proposed Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) would come into play, the ministry said. The regulator will be an authority distinct from the government and I&B ministry and a second appeal against its order can also be filed before the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal.

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