I&B mulls sending reminder to NBA over Content Code

NEW DELHI: Upset over News Broadcasters Association‘s (NBA) silence on the Content Code almost a month after sending a letter, the Information and Broadcasting ministry (I&B) is now planning to send a reminder.

Meanwhile, the government-drafted Code remains in place till a regulator comes up.

"We have no word from them and it may be they have not taken this seriously," an official told, despite the fact that during a meeting with the minister for Information and Broadcasting, journalists had said they would draft their own Code and send it to the government.

"We are considering sending a letter to remind them on this soon," the official said, and added that the government was looking at getting the Broadcast Bill out as soon as possible.

However, though the Bill was termed as a priority, the official was unable to give a definite deadline for it to be in place. The Bill has to be passed early, the official said, as that would be the only route of setting up the regulator.

It may be recalled that while most broadcasters are agreeable to having a regulation, they had vehemently fought the idea of a government-drafted Code of Content, terming that as infringement of free speech.

In the context of the Bill, when asked whether the ministry officials had interacted with the chairperson of Ofcom, the British media regulatory body, the official said they had "a lot of interaction."

So, is the Indian ministry taking points from the Ofcom system?

"They have an interesting system of setting up the Commission, which is basically that the old body of the Commission gets the new body in and this gives them autonomy. We are looking at this and studying it, and may be some parts could be considered," added the official.

The system of setting regulatory bodies and Commission is different from that in British media affairs, the official said, and this merits study.

However, the ministry could not give a deadline of getting the Bill on the house of the Parliament, saying that there is need for more guidance. That guidance would come from within the ministry itself "as we are pretty much aware of who has to say what on the issue".

Meanwhile, the Code of Content drafted by the government has not been scrapped and will be there as a referral point as and when the regulator is set up. The government might scrap some provisions obnoxious to the industry and put it for more healthy debate, the official said.

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