NBA to put in place content code based on self-regulation within 4 weeks

NEW DELHI: The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) will put systems in place for a content code based on self- regulation for news television channels within four weeks.

“The Information and Broadcasting ministry is only entitled to give the licence and the rest should be left to the industry. NBA has worked out an answer to the Content Code where it has dealt with redressal mechanism, the details of which would be released in another four week’s time”, said TV Today Network CEO and NBA president G Krishnan while speaking at the second edition of the NT Summit, organised by

The morning session on “The Commercial Imperative” focused on striking the right balance between the editorial and commercial imperatives.

Distribution was emerging as a large cost that was hurting news broadcasters, speakers at the session agreed.

“News channels are paying Rs 5 billion as carriage fee. The surge in distribution costs is killing the industry,” says Krishnan.

The news TV business is raking in over Rs 10 billion in revenues and is employing over 25,000 people directly,” Krishnan added.

The distribution issues, however, need to be sorted out. Times Now CEO Chintamani Rao blamed the huge pressure on cost of distribution as the major force impeding the growth process of the industry.

Digicable CEO Jagjit Singh Kohli said digitalisation through Headend-In-The-Sky (HITS) and Cas was the only way out. “In analogue mode, a cable operator has a capacity to carry 70 to 80 channels. However the numbers of channels are increasing every day. So till the time complete digitalisation takes place, the situation will remain grim.”

Kohli blamed the government for not coming out with policies on Cas extension and HITS. “We applied for HITS licence but the government said the policy was not ready yet,” he said.

The market was being spoilt by new entrants from across all sectors. The ministry of information and broadcasting ministry recently cleared 33 licences for news channels.

“A multi-media approach can only help succeed in this clutter. Single news channels will find it very difficult to exist,” said CNN IBN and IBN7 editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai.

While the commercial aspect is imperative, it should not be forgotten that news is a unique product which is built over a period of time and is known for its credibility and genuineness, Sardesai added. “The ‘Chinese wall’ between content advertisements and content should be maintained.”

Star News CEO Ashok Venkataramani added, “Commercial side of the news business is very important..”

The market has to rule. Zee News CEO Barun Das said that there was space for real news, evident from the success that the relaunched Zee News channel is enjoying.

Tam India CEO L V Krishnan stated that news channels have drawn in new audiences and advertisers. The afternoon slot, for example, used to barely have any viewership. But now it has opened up women audiences. “Almost 44 per cent of viewership in the afternoon comes through women. There are 3400 new advertisers that have flocked in.”

India TV COO Rohit Bansal stressed on the reason behind showing news and non news programmes, “The family audiences have certain choices, likes or dislikes; depending on that we create our programmes. We are also scoring on real news. The ministry of Information and Broadcasting looks at us as hard as it looks at any channel. And till date we have never faced a situation where we had to apologise for showing distressing content. As a news channel our job is to satisfy the regulator, advertisers and viewers and we are all trying our best to maintain the balance.”

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