The Government has decided to bring both television and films under a unified content code when the Committee, which is now in the process of creating a content code for the broadcast industry, submits its report, I&B Secretary S K Arora said at the Assocham Conference on the Broadcast Bill.
“The sub-committee has submitted its report on the content code and now the Committee is in the process of detailing. The principles and rules will be the same for both television and film industries. However, as it is impossible logistically to preview all the programmes of 250 channels running 24 hours a day, television channels will have to do self-regulation. If self-regulation fails, we are considering whether to follow an ASCI model or a Chartered Accountants’ model.”
When asked whether the Government was considering doing away with the Censor Board with the new unified Content Code in place, Arora answered in the negative.
The Government has formulated a Committee for content code consisting of representatives of civil society, the media industry and government bodies.
Later in the day, the Committee for the Content Code met at the Ministry. It was proposed that ASCI, IBF and cable operators would create Consumer Complaint Cells (CCCs) to hear advertising, broadcasting and consumer related complaints, respectively.
Giving a patient hearing to the panelists on the Broadcast Bill, Arora observed that all their views could be easily accommodated in the present Draft Bill. “There is not a single point which is intractable,” he said, adding, “The Draft Bill will undergo several refinements. The Government is entirely open to suggestions for fresh ideas. After receiving all comments and finalising the draft, we will consult all other concerned Ministries. At present, we are in the middle of the Innings.”
Confessing that the present Draft addressed the issues involving the broadcast industry in the traditional sense of the term and did not preempt the convergence issues, Arora sought suggestions whether convergence issues should be addressed in the present Bill.
Arora reiterated that the Government had no intention to intrude into the freedom of press. “It is the Government’s resolve not to trample with the freedom of the press. Whatever restrictions are proposed will be under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.”
Clearing the confusion in some quarters that in case of criminal jurisprudence the management of the broadcaster will be taken over by the Government, Arora stressed, “No such provision is there in the proposed Bill. Criminal prosecution will happen only in case of completely unlicensed broadcast, if the channel is not registered, or in case of a national emergency situation.”