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Does govt propose to regulate kids' channels? MIB says 'no'

Govt: not aware of research conclusively proving cartoons have “lasting” effect on kids

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NEW DELHI: Do watching cartoons have lasting effects on the children? Has the government made any assessment regarding the impact of cartoon channels on kids? Does the government propose to regulate/limit the telecast of cartoon programmes by private channels and Doordarshan in accordance with the examination schedule of children?

Well, these were some of queries raised by an Indian parliamentarian in the Lok Sabha or Lower House yesterday. The government, while admitting kids’ programming could affect children, however, clarified there were no proposal at present to regulate such shows or limiting their broadcast schedules.

Pointing out research does indicate that watching cartoon has both “negative and positive effects” on children, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore said the government is not aware of any study or research that conclusively proves watching cartoons or any such other programme has “lasting effect on children”.

Rathore further said, “Presently there is no such policy [to regulate or limit the telecast of cartoon programmes by private channels and Doordarshan].”

According to Rathore, the government grants permission to TV channels under two categories of news & current affairs and non-news & current affairs and there was no separate categorisation (like cartoon channels) for granting of permission by the government to start a TV channel.

“Non-news and current affairs channels are permitted to air programmes of any nature, including cartoon[s], provided the content of the programme adheres to [the] programme code stipulated under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995,” the Minister added.

Replying to another question on whether the Government proposes to introduce a legislation to regulate web media and news portals for their mandatory registration, Rathore said presently there was “no such proposal” in this regard.

“The government is committed to freedom of speech and expression and privacy of its citizens as enshrined in the Constitution of India. Government does not regulate content appearing on web media. Law enforcement agencies take action on posting of malicious content on specific case to case basis,” the Minister told his fellow parliamentarian.

The MIB, meanwhile, recently told the Supreme Court that it was withdrawing a proposal to set up a social media hub, which was criticized by the civil society and online activists on the ground that the government was trying to prepare a surveillance center to track live the digital footprints of its citizens.

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