Deadline passes, still no Content Code; govt says editors must take a call

NEW DELHI: The deadline has passed. Now the information & broadcasting ministry is seriously upset that the News Broadcasters Association has not sent them any communiqué - let alone the Content Code they had promised to give - and say that the editors will have to take a call, especially about excessive repetition of shots of violence.

"NBA had themselves said they would give their draft by 31 January, and though there is nothing sacrosanct about that date, we could wait for a day or two," a ministry official said.

The official also pointed out that repetition of violent and obscene shots is a dangerous thing, as they make the less educated audience - the vast majority - think that that is the reality. "The editor will have to take a call on that, this cannot be allowed," he added.

NBA secretary general and spokesperson Annie Joseph could not be contacted despite several calls on her mobile, and another senior member o NBA committee declined to comment, saying that could come from only Joseph.

However, industry sources said that the draft is still being discussed and the attempt is to make it inclusive and representative across the country, and hence, it would take a longer time, as this could not be rushed through.

Officials also informed that they are gearing to meet a Delhi High Court deadline on informing the court about the outcome of meetings with the Indian Newspaper Society, Indian Broadcasting Foundation and the Indian Media Group on issues of violence and obscenity.

The court has specifically named these three organisations and not included the NBA in its list of organisations to be consulted, the official stated.

A writ petition filed by an individual asking the court to issue an order to the government to implement the content code. On 14 December, the court passed an interim order, asking the organisations and the government to thrash out the issues and report to it within 10 weeks, and that process is on, the official said.

Senior officials said, "NBA is not interested in filing their draft Content Code, and though nothing concrete has been decided as the next course of action, the government will soon decide what to do."

The government has only two options: drop the entire issue, or take up their own content code and possibly revise certain segments that had been found to be repugnant by NBA, and issue the code.

Dropping the content code altogether is not a plausible course of action for even if the government wanted to, the judiciary has clearly indicated in many cases that it is not happy with the content on TV news channels.

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