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Government likely to moot 3-tier content regulation for news channels

24-March-2010
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Government likely to moot 3-tier content regulation for news channels

The Government was likely to implement content regulation in three tiers for news channels, said Uday Kumar Varma, Special Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, at the three-day Convergence India 2010 conference that got underway in Delhi on March 24. While the first two tiers will be offered for self-regulation, the third tier will be an independent autonomous body.

Speaking on the issue of content regulation Varma pointed out that nowhere in the world was media free content wise. “Content needs to be regulated, but the big question is how? Substantial media players thinks they can self regulate themselves, but there are 500 channels in India and all have to be taken together, otherwise it cannot work. There are few organisations in the country that seem to be responsible. We are in the process of negotiations with content and carriage providers and hoping to come to the mutual consensus very soon,” he added.

“Few people raise the question on self-regulation – that how can somebody be a judge of his own act? Banks and telecom operators don’t regulate themselves, they have got a separate body to keep an eye on them. So, how can TV news media be different?” Varma asked.

He further expressed satisfaction with the responses of news associations and said, “Associations like NBA and BAI have shown responsible behaviour by replying to some of the queries that we had sent to them. Some days back, when few news channels were showing objectionable content from the movie ‘Love, Sex and Dhokha’, we issued a notice to them and they stopped showing that content. We are in the process of evolving consensus with news broadcasters and hoping to get everything done soon.”

Varma also spoke on the IPTV and DTH industry in India. He stressed that digitisation of cable network was not a choice, but more of a compulsion. He added, “Equipment manufacturers and digital buyers will have to improve their production. Tax and duty structure needs to be rationalized, because DTH operators keep on complaining about taxes.”

On IPTV services, he said, “I don’t see IPTV harming other mediums in the near future. On IPTV, we are looking to get feedbacks from the industry as well. Although mobile penetration is very high in India, yet the penetration of mobile TV is very less. Issue of spectrum in mobile TV has to be discussed for its bright future.”

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