Television

NBF's emergence signals turf war in India’s news broadcast business

News Broadcasters Federation was formed on 25 July 2019

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MUMBAI: India’s often noisy and always cut-throat news broadcasting business is headed for interesting times. Current challenges facing the sector aside, Thursday made matters more complex with the birth of a new industry body in the form of News Broadcasters Federation (NBF).

The NBF claims to be the largest-ever such grouping with over 50 news channels under its umbrella and a true representative of the diversity of news broadcasting in the country.

In a sense, it is positioning itself as an alternative to the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), which critics describe as an elite club that is mostly receptive to concerns of news broadcasters headquartered in the national capital.

Following NBF’s announcement, an NBA delegation of chairman Rajat Sharma (India TV), NBA secretary general Annie Joseph, honorary treasurer Anurradha Prasad (News24 Broadcast India), Rahul Joshi (TV18 Broadcast), Avinash Pandey (ABP News Network), Kalli Purie (TV Today Network) and Sonia Singh (NDTV) met the Minister for Information and Broadcasting (MIB) Prakash Javadekar.

The NBA presently has 27 news and current affairs broadcasters (comprising 70 news and current affairs channels) as its members and describes itself as a unified and credible voice before the government on matters that affect the growing industry.

The setting up of a parallel body though will have several implications for the ecosystem. For starters, it can deliver a blow to the broadcasting industry’s demand for recognition of the self-regulatory codes of Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) and News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) for non-news and news channels respectively. While MIB has expressed satisfaction with the performance of BCCC during several interactions with stakeholders, it has found that NBSA lacks vision and discipline, often not meeting its own standards. With the setting up of NBF, the task of getting the ministry to recognise NBSA code of NBA will only get tougher.

“The NBF has at least 10 such news channels which do not have licence but have entered into structures with other companies to lease channel licences which is illegal,” said a senior news broadcasting executive who did not wish to be identified.

This list includes the likes of Living India News, Khabar Fast, IND24, A1 TV, National Voice, and Nirman News among others. Critics of the NBF also highlight the fact that it houses some channels that are part of the non-news category like MK Television, Ayush TV among others.

Indiantelevision.com reached out to some of the founding members of the NBF. They, however, were not available for comment.

The NBF is now in the process of accepting new members and will soon interact with relevant industry and regulatory bodies. With Javadekar terming the formation of NBF as a “very positive development”, its next move – forming the governing board – will be closely watched.

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