Regulators

NBA challenges amended Cable TV rules in Kerala High Court

The Cable TV Network (Amendment) Rules, 2021 were notified in June.

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New Delhi: The Kerala high court has directed the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) not to take any coercive action against members of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) over non-compliance with the Cable TV Act.

The court issued the orders on a plea filed by the NBA which represents several news channels against certain provisions of the amended Cable TV Rules which provide for an oversight mechanism over the content of news channels. The court has also issued notice to the ministry and sought its stand on the NBA's petition within two weeks.

In its plea, NBA contended that the amended provisions in the Cable TV Rules create an oversight mechanism that gives the executive "unfettered, unbridled and excessive powers to regulate the content of the television channels of the news broadcasters".

NBA's counsel told the court that the amended rules are similar to the new IT rules which NBA had challenged recently. "Under the amended Cable TV Rules also, the oversight mechanism would be headed by an additional secretary-level officer who would have the power to overrule decisions of the self-regulatory body already in place and which is headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court," he added.

Last month, the Centre had notified the Cable Television Network (Amendment) Rules, 2021 to provide for a three-layer statutory mechanism for the redressal of consumer’s complaints relating to the content broadcast by TV channels.

The amended rules stipulate a three-layer grievance redressal mechanism - self-regulation by broadcasters, self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of broadcasters, and an oversight mechanism by the central government. The rules require each broadcaster to establish a grievance or complaint redressal mechanism, appoint an officer to deal with the complaints, display the contact details of their grievance officer on their website or interface and be a member of a self-regulating body.

As per the rules, any person aggrieved by the content of a programme of a channel may file his/her complaint in writing to the broadcaster first. "The broadcaster shall, within 24 hours of a complaint being filed, generate and issue an acknowledgment to the complainant for his information and record. The broadcaster shall dispose of the complaint and inform the complainant of its decision within 15 days of receipt of such complaint," the rules stated.

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