The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has at last decided to bell the cat by setting up a screening body, called Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC), to monitor and regulate the content of channels telecasting from India as well as from abroad.
The objective, as laid down by the Ministry, is “to have a facility of TV content monitoring channels for ensuring compliance with programme and advertising codes enshrined in the Cable Television (Networks) Act, 1995 and rules framed thereunder.”
The proposed body will be set up under the government undertaking, Broadcasting Engineering Consultants India Ltd (BECIL). The I&B Ministry has set aside Rs 10 crore for the current financial year to build up the necessary infrastructure.
When contacted, BECIL Deputy GM Rajat Nigam confirmed the news, saying that the initial work had started in this direction and the centre would start functioning from March next year. “An automatic monitoring centre is being set up at Pushp Bhavan in New Delhi, which will monitor about 100 television channels, both uplinked from India and abroad,” he added.
The government had been mulling over such a regulatory body for quite sometime now. The issue gained momentum when many members from the Rajya Sabha recently brought to the notice of I&B Minister S Jaipal Reddy the way many channels, especially, news and music, were beaming inappropriate content without considering its adverse impact on the impressionable minds of young children.
Reddy shared the concerns of the members and assured them that his ministry would come out with a monitoring body to check the unabashedly TRP-obsessed channels.
Meanwhile, private broadcasters have reacted cautiously to this development. Peter Mukerjea, CEO, STAR India felt that there would be both pros and cons of this regulatory body.
Without taking a stand for or against the body, Mukerjea said, “As far as STAR India is concerned, we have always abided by the codes of conduct set forth by the Ministry, so we have nothing to fear.” Rajat Sharma, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, India TV, simply welcomed the initiative without going into any further detail.