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NBF forms separate regulatory body PNBSO to oversee fair reporting

Former chief justice of India JS Khehar appointed first chairman of PNBSO

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NEW DELHI: With the TV news industry finding itself in hot water over the last few weeks, the News Broadcasters Federation (NBF), an association of over 20 organisations and multiple channels, has set up a self-regulatory body named Professional News Broadcasting Standards Organisation (PNBSO).

The self-regulatory organization will oversee fair news reporting in its member companies. It aims to bring in self-regulation of high standards and international repute. The key mission of the organisation is to support those who feel wronged by the press, to uphold the highest professional standards in the broadcast, and to determine whether standards have been breached and provide redress if so.

The former chief justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar has been appointed the first chairman of the PNBSO.

The self-regulatory organisation comprises nine members: one chairman appointed from a pool of retired judges from the Supreme Court of India, four editorial members and four eminent citizens. The NBF-PNBSO will meet every three months to review any complaints filed against member companies.

The panel is currently led by former chief justice Khehar, along with RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi and media veteran Chintamani Rao. The names of the other panellists will be announced soon.

Members of NBF, who are also a signatory to NBF-PNBSO, abide by the broad framework on editorial guidelines and must refrain from making–

·   Criticism of friendly countries

·   Attack on religion or communities.

·   Anything obscene or defamatory.

·   Incitement to violence or anything against maintenance of law and order.

·   Anything amounting to contempt of court.

·   Aspersion against the integrity of the president, governors, and the judiciary.

·   Attack on a political party by name.

·   Hostile criticism of any state or the centre.

·   Anything showing disrespect to the constitution or advocating change in the constitution by violent means (but advocating changes in a constitutional way should not be debarred).

The PNBSO is determined to uphold the standards of broadcast news and will ensure that all the member channels follow the news broadcasting code of conduct. It will work closely with all stakeholders to prevent the menace of fake news.

The organisation has also drafted a complaint mechanism. In case of any violation, the panel will issue a warning including a channel to run an apology scroll specifying the date and time – an action to be complied with and reported back to NBF-PNBSO within seven days of the order. Any repeat or serious violations would attract a financial penalty up to Rs 10 lakh. A repeat violation by the channel/anchor would be penalized with a warning to run an apology scroll for two days with a specific date and time; removing the anchor up to 3 months and/or a financial penalty up to Rs 5 lakh.

The code is based on the UK based Impress and International Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) and the Society of Professional Journalism of the USA.

It is worth noting that the current president of the NBF’s governing board, Arnab Goswami, has been named in a lawsuit against "irresponsible reporting by certain media houses" filed by leading Bollywood producers and filmmakers. Goswami’s channel Republic TV is also being probed by the Mumbai police in an alleged TV manipulation racket.

Yesterday, the Bombay high court questioned the union government why there should not be a statutory body to regulate the content broadcast through news channels.

The court sought to know why the electronic media should have an "open hand" over its coverage. It was hearing a bunch of public interest litigations (PILs) seeking that the press, particularly TV news channels, be directed to exercise restraint in their reportage of actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death case and the related investigation by police and CBI.

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