Regulators

MIB flags issue of anti-national content on cable channels, seeks industry advisory

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NEW DELHI: Ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) is seeking an advisory from the Indian media and entertainment industry on a number of issues, including ways to track and stop so-called anti-national content being aired on some local cable TV channels, which do not need to register with any government body.

In a meeting held in MIB’s headquarters in the Capital’s Shastri Bhawan yesterday, senior officials put forth their concerns to the industry representatives and sought their help in resolving the issues, which have been flagged in various sections of the government, including the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) responsible for internal security.

Government sources indicated that  the MHA has requested MIB to look into the issue of cable channels being run by some LCOs in states like Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh where `objectionable’ content  aimed at flaring sectarian passions were being telecast. Some such cable channels are also said to be illegally downloading unencrypted content from foreign TV channels for rebroadcast in various parts of India.

As cable channels run by LCOs or MSOs or similar channels on a DTH platform as part of value-added services or VAS are not yet required to register with the government, officials find it difficult to zero down on cable channels especially. As LCOs are required to register with the local post offices, a common database of such Indian LCOs is also not there for effective tracking, as admitted by a government official, who hastily added that work on creating a LCO database is underway.

As part of its many set of recommendations to streamline the carriage part of the cable and broadcast business, regulator TRAI had suggested  that the government tweak relevant regulations to specify that all cable channels run by LCOs too would have to get government license like satellite or cable-delivered  TV channels. However, because of effective lobbying by LCO organizations, MIB is yet to act on the regulator’s suggestions on cable channels.

Government sources indicated that more such meetings may be held with industry reps to understand and find solutions to issues linked to country’s national interest.

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