Television

Content code draft submitted to NBA

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NEW DELHI: The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has received the draft code of conduct from the member who had been entrusted with the job, and are going to take legal counsel on the issue soon, sources said.

Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami sent the draft code to the NBA yesterday, and after the process of legal opinion taking is over, the draft would be sent to all the members of the association for their study and a discussion to finalise the Code some time later, and there has been no deadline fixed for that so far.

Sources however said that the NBA would not push the deadline too far, as it is keen to submit the code to the I&B ministry.

The real problem is getting most of the other channels not based in Delhi or Mumbai to give their inputs, as the NBA leadership would like to broaden the base of the organisation as well as support for the draft code of content, so that the government is not able to dismiss it as the will of a handful of journalists.

"There is need to make this a national consensus, and hopefully we shall be able to do that, as we are keen on this," a source in the news TV industry told Indiantelevision.com.

The code is a response to the ministry wanting to foist a code of conduct on the news channels, which the latter have slammed as an infringement of the right to freedom of speech and expression.

In fact, the government had promised to redraft the original code it had issued for consultation, and said it would keep a minimalist approach.

Despite that, in a meeting with the minister last month, the news broadcasters had refused to have anything to do with a government created code.

The key aspects of the code drafted by the NBA - though no details are being divulged about the actual content - are sting operations, privacy, decency and measures to be taken against an errant channel.

Issues as to how far is too far, and what to do with a situation like the one in which a news channel repeatedly aired the footage of a former film starlet bathing in the nude inside a jail bathroom, will be central to the concerns of the NBA code, as it had told the government that the industry was mature enough, just a few days before this scene was aired on TV.

"We have the concerns of the government relating to cultural values in mind, as the government is as Indian as we are and share the same values, but we want only self-governance, not government gagging of the media," a senior editor told Indiantelevision.com.

Meanwhile the entire issue of Broadcast Bill and hence the government drafted code has been put on the back burner, seemingly for an indefinite time, as the PMO does not want the media upset to the extent it had become, especially with some critical elections coming round the corner.

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