Regulators

'Inappropriate content' on TV & radio to be regulated

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MUMBAI: The Indian Government plans to establish a body to regulate the content broadcast on television and radio channels.

In the backdrop of escalating concern of over-regulating and gagging of free speech by the Central Government, the government is now considering regulation of television and radio channels against what is being termed as 'inappropriate content'.

The Central Government has decided to establish a grievance redressal mechanism against objectionable content that is broadcast on TV news and entertainment channels, and FM and community radio, the Asian Age reported.

This would mean that radio stations and television channel which were following a self-regulatory mechanism could now be held liable for complaints against their content filed by the public.

If a member of the public has a complaint regarding certain content broadcast over radio or television, s/he can lodge a complaint with the district magistrate (DM) or the police commissioner (chairmen of the district-level monitoring committee), according to a government directive accessed by the paper.

People are free to register their complaints online at pgportal.gov.in, or directly send their grievances to the union information and broadcasting ministry.

In January 2017, the Supreme Court had directed the government to establish a mechanism for redressal of complaints against "contents of private TV channels and radio stations and accord due publicity to the measures to enable citizens approach it with their grievances."

The Programme and Advertising Code of the government prohibits the broadcasting of certain type of content, including anything that "offends and is against 'decency', contains criticism of friendly countries, contains attacks on religion or communities, is obscene or defamatory, encourages or incites violence, encourages superstition, denigrates women or affects the integrity of the nation."

It was reported in February 2017 that action was taken in 52 cases of television and two of radio in the past three years for violation of the Code. The minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore had said the action in most cases was limited to apology scrolls, or switching off channels for a brief period.

Rathore had said the Supreme Court had, on 12 January 2017, advised the Government to formalise the complaint redressal mechanism including the period of limitation within which a complaint can be filed. The court also said the concerned statutory authority which shall adjudicate upon the same including the appellate and other redressal mechanisms, leading to a final conclusive determination.

As and when there is a prima facie case of violation by private satellite TV channels and private FM channels regarding content aired by them, the matter is placed before the IMC for its consideration/recommendations. Thus, IMC functions in a recommendatory capacity.

Apart from this, the Ministry had earlier issued directions to States to set up District level and State level Monitoring Committees to regulate content telecast of local TV channels carried on Cable TV Networks.

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