Regulators

Present mechanism to check TV content is adequate, says Rathore

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NEW DELHI: Noting that the present mechanism for checking content of private television channels is considered adequate, the minister of state for information & broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore has said “there is no need to clarify the restrictions on right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Constitution in so far as the issues of national security and interests are concerned.”

In a reply in the Parliament, Rathore said the Programme and Advertising Codes and the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) set up in the Ministry to look into specific complaints or suo-motu take cognizance against the violation of Programme and Advertising Codes are sufficient. The IMC functions in a recommendatory capacity. The final decision is taken by the competent authority based on the recommendations of IMC.

He said that under the existing regulatory framework, all programmes and advertisements telecast on private satellite TV channels and transmitted/re-transmitted through the Cable TV network are required to adhere to the Programme Code and Advertising Code prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 framed thereunder.

The Act does not provide for pre-censorship of any programme or advertisement telecast on such TV channels. These Codes contain a whole range of parameters to regulate content on such TV channels.

Rule 6(1)(p) of the Programme Code provides that “No programme should be carried in the cable service which contains live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces, wherein media coverage shall be restricted to periodic briefing by an officer designated by the appropriate Government, till such operation concludes. It is clarified that “anti-terrorist operation” means such operation undertaken to bring terrorists to justice, which includes all engagements involving justifiable use of force between security forces and terrorists”.

The Constitution allows State to impose reasonable restrictions on Freedom of Speech and Expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) on grounds of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency, morality, or in relation to contempt of Court, defamation or incitement to an offence, as laid down under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

Similarly reasonable restrictions can be imposed under certain situations on the freedom to practice any profession, business, etc. under Article 19(1)(g). This spirit of the Constitution is also reflected in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, which while upholding the freedom of Electronic Media imposes reasonable restrictions in public interest.

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