State-level television committees to monitor FM & Community Radio

NEW DELHI: The state / district-level monitoring committees will  henceforth be authorised to monitor the content broadcast on private FM I community radio stations also in addition to private satellite TV channels. The content can be monitored by the committees suo-moto and on the basis of complaints received.

The information and broadcasting ministry has therefore requested all state governments to constitute these committees wherever these have not been set up so far and to effectively monitor all types of content.  A detailed office memorandum in this regard has been sent to all states.

This has been done as the ministry is in the process of formalising the complaint redressal mechanism whereby viewers and listeners can file complaints against programmes they find offensive in television channels or radio stations.

This follows a judgment delivered on 12 January in the case of Common Cause Vs. UOI & Ors where the court advised the government to formalise the complaint redressal mechanism.

According to MIB sources, if any violations were found, those would be acted upon by the authorised officers or brought to the notice of the ministry for taking necessary action as per relevant guidelines.

The ministry had, in orders on 6 September 2005 and 19 February letter on 17 January 2017, asked for constitution of monitoring committees to enforce the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. According to information available with the ministry, the monitoring committees were set up in 19 states, five union territories and 327 districts for monitoring content telecast on private satellite channels.

Broadcast of FM radio channels and Community Radio Stations (CRS) are in the nature of terrestrial transmission. Hence, monitoring their content centrally is not feasible, the Ministry said.

The content aired by them rs also of local nature. All private FM channels and Community Radio Stations are required to follow the All India Radio's Broadcast Code in terms of the Grant of Permission Agreement  (GOPA) signed by them with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 

The ministry said it is therefore essential that such committees are set up for all types of content monitoring including private FM channels and community radio stations.

The Ministry has sent to the states a list of permitted private FM channels and Community Radio Stations as on date. However, as this is an evolving list, the states have been told to access the latest list on the ministry’s website.

The Ministry in its letter also informed the states that TV broadcasters have set up their self regulating system where too the public can lodge complaints. News Broadcasters Association (NBA), a representative body  of news and current  affairs TV channels, set up News Broadcasting Standards Authority  (NBSA), to consider complaints against or in respect of broadcasters relating to content.

The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), a representative  body of non-news and current  affairs  TV channels  has set up Broadcasting  Content Complaints Council (BCCC)  to examine the complaints relating to content  telecast  on private satellite TV channels.

In addition, the ministry said the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has set up a Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) to consider complaints in respect of advertisements.

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