News broadcasters look to finalise content code before month-end

NEW DELHI: With growing pressure following the infamous Uma Khurana sting operation, broadcasters are working towards finalising their Content Code before the end of this month, and the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has convened a meeting early next week to discuss the issue.

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has already indicated to the information and broadcasting ministry that it will finalise its Code by the end of January. 

The ministry is itself under a direction from the Delhi High Court to give its views on the status of an attempt to bring in a regulation. In a decision given last month, the High Court, while responding to a set of PILs, had asked the ministry to come with its response within ten weeks.

Accordingly, the ministry has called a meeting of stakeholders in the second half of this month to take their inputs, an official said.

According to an IBF official, a preliminary draft is ready but will be subjected to threadbare discussion at the Mumbai meeting following which a final version may be drafted to be submitted to the ministry.

NBA claims it has already formulated its own code and a grievance redressal mechanism and handed over the draft to senior advocate and former solicitor general of India Harish Salve, who is helping the association in the preparation of the code. ''Since, we deal with the news and current affairs, our issues are very different. The IBF is drafting a code relating to entertainment programmes which would require different parameters,'' an NBA official said.

The Editors Guild is also working on a model code and a self-regulation mechanism.

The government had prepared a Content Code with the help of various stakeholders and even placed it on the Ministry’s website for comments and fixed a final date of 5 August, 2007 for this purpose, but met with stiff resistance. 

The fake sting operation resulted in the Courts intervening and the ministry stepping up pressure for some regulation in the broadcasting sector, even as the Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill remains in cold storage.

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