Regulators

India has 890 TV channels against 12th Plan target of 1500

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NEW DELHI: With the government having cleared a total of 890 television channels including 401 news channels, it appears highly unlikely that the country will achieve the target of 1500 channels by March next year.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee for Information Technology which goes into issues relating to Information and Broadcasting noted that the State Finance Commission, while drafting its proposals for the 12th Plan (2012-17), had assumed that the number of permitted TV channels would rise to 1500.

However, a recent I and B ministry report said that a total of 890 TV channels had got permission to start their operation as on 31 May. Out of these, twenty channels including seven news channels have been permitted to uplink from India but not downlink within the country, and 96 including 81 general entertainment channels are uplinked from overseas but allowed to downlink into TV homes in the country.

Meanwhile, the committee was told that the present set up of Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC) has developed logging and recording facility for 900 TV channels and is thus fully equipped to start monitoring of all permitted channels available on public domain.

The Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd. (BECIL) is configuring all available free to air channels in the content monitoring system of the EMMC.

However, configuration of pay channels will require broadcasters to provide necessary equipment for downloading and decryption of the content/signal and this is expected to be completed within 4 months’ time.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee for Information Technology which goes into issues relating to Information and Broadcasting observed that the monitoring capacity of EMMC is being augmented in a phased manner to achieve the objective of developing content acquisition facility for 1500 channels by the end of the 12th Plan.

By the end of Fiscal Year 2014-15, EMMC successfully achieved the Plan target of content acquisition facility of 600 TV channels. Under the 12th Plan, Rs.56.37 crore had been utilized as of 31 March 2016 out of the total outlay of Rs.90 crore.

The committee was told that the budget estimate for 2016-17 had been reduced to Rs 12 crore as compared to Rs 21 crore in 2015-16, out of which Rs 19.76 had been spent by 3 March 2016.

During the year 2015-16, EMMC has procured content acquisition hardware for setting up monitoring facility for 300 additional TV channels and installed at the new set up on the eleventh floor of Soochna Bhawan in New Delhi. The channels are being configured.

The ministry also informed the committee that issues pertaining to monitoring of 600 channels, hardware for which was acquired in FY 2014-15 had been resolved. Hence, EMMC was able to stabilize and regularly monitor 600 TV channels.

The ministry said its target under the Machinery and Equipment head was to develop content acquisition facility for additional 300 TV channels by the end of FY 2016-17.

The committee was informed that during the year 2015-16, 11 cases were found where TV channels were in violation of content guidelines (Programme Code and Advertisement Code).

While there is no provision of pre-censorship of the content telecast on private TV channels, all programmes/ advertisements telecast on such TV channels are required to adhere to the Programme and Advertising Codes prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the rules framed thereunder. Action is taken whenever any violation of the Codes is noticed or brought to the notice of the ministry.

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