Govt under pressure to finalise Content Code: Sushma

Bill also has doníts for Bollywood
The new broadcast regulations of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) will not only cover television content but also films.

A committee headed by I&B secretary SK Arora will soon submit the amended draft rules for certification of films under the Cinematograph Act, 1952. "The guidelines need a change as they do not cover all aspects film and television programmes," a ministry official said.

With the new guidelines, the ministry plans to regulate depictions of terrorism, violence, armed forces, religion, communal issues and obscenity in the movies. "The codes for movies and television will be similar as both are powerful broadcast media," said an official.

The new broad-based code for movies will be enforced by the censor board while certifying the movies. "We will seek opinion of the industry on the code before enforcing it as it should be acceptable to all," a ministry official said.

While the film code will take some time, the television content code is almost ready. The code will lay down categories for certification of television programmes, depending on which timings for the programmes will be fixed. For example, crime-related programmes can be beamed only after 10 pm and semi-adult programmes after midnight. As the new code has specific timings for programmes, the movies will have to be certified to fit the television code. 

Among several options being considered to implement the code, one is appointment of internal content auditors in broadcast companies to ensure compliance. The second option is to have a body on the lines of Advertising Standards Council of India to look into the complaints. Another option is to let the Press Council of India look into complaints. However, the punitive powers will remain with the proposed Broadcasting Regulatory Authority of India for both television and movies.

For television, the ministry has already got the monitoring committees constituted at the district level, with which the consumers can file complaints. These committees can instruct the district administration to take action against the cable operator or the broadcaster at the local level. The new broadcast bill will also authorise the committees to recommend action against the channel to the regulatory authority.

PCI advocates self-regulation, opposes government pressure 

New Delhi, July 04: Advocating the principle of self- regulation in the media, the Press Council of India (PCI) today said monitoring of content should be done by media persons themselves, independent of the government or any industrial pressure or persuasion. 

Reacting to various provisions of the proposed broadcast bill, the council said in a statement that the constitution provides unhindered freedom of speech and expression, subject only to reasonable restrictions. 

"There are also sufficient laws that arm the civil and police authorities to take action against violation of a specific law," the statement said. 

"However, insofar as content monitoring of the media is concerned, the council feels that this should be overseen by the media persons themselves under the aegis of a statutory authority independent of the government or any industrial pressure or persuasion." 

Asserting that a set of self developed ethics are already being enforced by it for the print media and that the electronic media cannot by subject to different norms or enforcing agencies, the PCI demanded its conversion into a "media council" with appropriate changes in its composition and powers so that it could function as an effective quasi- judicial body with self-regulatory mechanism. 

The council also reiterated its proposal for setting up a media commission to look into the question of the future growth and prospects of the media in the country. 

A section of media apprehend that once the Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill 2006 becomes law, it will provide the government with sweeping powers to muzzle the media, a charge strongly denied by the government 

Sting Operations

New broadcast Bill just a rehash of existing provisions 
July 02, 2006
NEW DELHI: The government's attempt to muzzle the media is not an original thought. In fact, officials in the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry have expanded on the already existing draconian provisions present in the Cable Network Regulations Act and the direct-to-home guidelines. 

The existing provisions have been tightened further to be included in the Broadcast Services Regulation Bill, 2006 the proposed umbrella Bill that brings cable operators, newspapers and television channels under one legislation and is likely to be brought in the monsoon session of Parliament. 

Section 11 in the Cable Act reads strikingly similar to sections 23 and 24 in the Broadcast Bill. 

It empowers any 'authorised officer' DM, SDM or police commissioner to seize equipment being used by cable operators in case of violation of the legislation. The penalty for the offence extends from two-five years while a fine of Rs 1,000-5,000 can be imposed. 

The imposition of penalty cannot be challenged in court except if the authorised officer complains in writing. Section 18 of the Cable Act says, "No court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under this Act except upon a complaint in writing made by any authorised officer This clause too appears to have been lifted and added to the Broadcast Bill under section 32, which says, "No civil court shall have the jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceedings in respect of any matter." 

Section 8 of the direct-to-home guidelines provide that the government can carry out an inspection after "reasonable notice except in circumstances where giving such a notice will defeat the very purpose of the inspection". 

Section 9 of the DTH guidelines put the reins completely in government hands. The ministry "reserves the right to take over entire services and networks of the licensee or revoke/cancel/suspend the licence... reserves the right to direct the licensee to close down the service if implications of security so requires". 

The government seems to have taken a leaf from these sections for section 25 of the Broadcast Bill contains similar provisions for the control of the media.

Is Sting operations Justified? by: Rajesh Chopra.  LiveIndia.Com

Draft Broadcast Bill leaves media at govt mercy
New Delhi July 2, 2006 
The central government will assume sweeping powers to take over control and management of private broadcasting channels in case of war or a natural calamity of national magnitude if a draft broadcast legislation becomes law.

"In the event of war or a natural calamity of national magnitude, the central government may, in public interest, take over the control and management of any of the broadcasting services or any facility connected therewith, suspend its operation or entrust the public service broadcaster to manage it in the manner directed by the Government for such period as it deems fit," the draft bill, which is to be considered by the Union Cabinet, states.

The Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill, 2006, to regulate private broadcasting also provides for punishment like revocation of licence and fines to those who violate the proposed broadcast guidelines, including the new Content Code under preparation.

The Bill provides that the government may at any time direct the licensing authority (Broadcasting Regulatory Authority of India) to suspend or revoke a broadcasting service's licence, if the service is "considered prejudicial to friendly relations with a foreign country, public order, communal harmony or security of the state." It provides for the setting up of a Broadcasting Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) which apart from a chairperson and six whole-time members, shall have a government official, not less than the rank of additional secretary, as its CEO/secretary. 
Govt under pressure to finalise Content Code: Sushma

Is Sting operations Justified? by: Rajesh Chopra.  LiveIndia.Com



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