Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) has come out strongly against the move of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to the effect that renewal of permission for TV channels would be considered subject to the condition that “the channel should not have been found guilty of violating the terms and conditions of the Programme Code on five occasions or more”.
The BEA said that across all democratic nations, governments had no role in issues pertaining to content. The Indian Constitution clearly restricted the Government from assuming any such role, the BEA maintained. It alleged that with the new norms, the Government was trying to control an otherwise independent electronic media by sending a subtle message that their permission to uplink could be withdrawn should they not “behave”.
“Can content be left to the wisdom of the bureaucrats in a democracy?” the BEA asked.
The net result of the new norms would be that an officer of the Government can question an individual channel on content for four times on one pretext or the other, and finally, threaten that channel of non-renewal, should it not fall in line.
According to the BEA, this move was an attempt to undermine the landmark steps that electronic media had taken towards self-regulation. The BEA demanded that the proposed norms be immediately withdrawn otherwise the media would be forced to take up this issue on other forums.
Broadcast Editors’ Association is the apex body of editors of national and regional TV news channels of India.