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MIB amends Cable TV Rules for redressal of broadcast-related complaints

Self-regulating bodies of broadcasters to be recognised by Centre

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New Delhi: The Centre has amended the Cable Television Network Rules to provide for a three-layer statutory mechanism for the redressal of consumer’s complaints relating to the content broadcast by TV channels.

The Cable TV Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2021 was notified in an official gazette on Thursday.

"The @MIB_India has by amending the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994, developed a statutory mechanism to redress citizens' grievances & complaints against programmes of TV channels. The @MIB_India has also decided to recognize Statutory Bodies of TV channels under CTN Rules," tweeted information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar. 

At present, there is an institutional mechanism by way of an inter-ministerial committee to address grievances of citizens relating to violation of the Programme/Advertising Codes under the Rules. Similarly, various broadcasters have also developed their internal self-regulatory mechanism for addressing grievances. “However, a need was felt to lay down a statutory mechanism for strengthening the grievance redressal structure. Some broadcasters had also requested for giving legal recognition to their associations/bodies,” said the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) on Thursday.

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 acknowledgement 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 state.

The complainants can file an appeal with the self-regulatory body of broadcasters if they are not satisfied with the decision of the broadcaster's grievance redressal officer or the decision of the broadcaster is not communicated to them within 15 days. The complainant may prefer an appeal to the self-regulating body, of which the broadcaster is a member, within 15 days therefrom.

The self-regulating body will be required to dispose of the appeal within 60 days of the receipt of the appeal, convey its decision in the form of guidance or advisory to the broadcaster, and inform the complainant of such a decision within 15 days. "Where the complainant is not satisfied with the decision of the self-regulating body, he may, within 15 days of such decision, prefer an appeal to the central government for its consideration under the oversight mechanism," said the rules.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) will hear complaints regarding the violation of the advertising code, take a decision within 60 days of the receipt of a complaint and communicate the same to the broadcaster and the complainant.

According to the amended rules, there may be one or more self-regulatory body of broadcasters, provided that every such body shall be constituted by a minimum of 40 broadcasters. The self-regulating body shall, after its constitution, register itself with the central government "within a period of 30 days from the date of publication of these rules, or within 30 days from the date of its constitution, whichever is earlier," the rules stipulate.

The government will set up an Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) to take up the hearing of matters "arising out of the appeals against the decisions taken at Level I or Level II of the grievance redressal mechanism". It will also hear complaints referred by the central government.

According to the ministry, the notification is significant as it paves the way for a “strong institutional system for redressing grievances” while placing accountability and responsibility on the broadcasters and their self-regulating bodies.

At present there are over 900 television channels that have been granted permission by MIB all of which are required to comply with the Programme and Advertising Code laid down under the Cable Television Network Rules.

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