Following the delay in the passage of the Communications Convergence Bill, the Information and Broadcasting ministry is planning to set up an independent broadcasting regulatory authority for content regulation on television channels. This was disclosed by information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj to members of the parliamentary consultative committee at a meeting yesterday.
According to sources, the committee members unanimously supported the immediate setting up of the broadcasting regulatory authority and said it was necessary to address the concerns of public order and decency, preservation of cultural diversity, prevention of excessive depiction of sex and violence, national security, integrity and sovereignty of the country, and the protection of children from undesirable programmes and advertisements.
The committee members felt that in the case of a delay in finalising the Convergence Bill, the government should move ahead towards regulating the content since programmes in various television channels were becoming "increasingly unwholesome".
The ministry had earlier planned to set up a media council replacing the Press Council to bring under its ambit the broadcasting media as well. However, with content regulation on television falling under the purview of the Communication Commission of India, the plan was given up.
The content quality of some channels, particularly the serials, have come under severe criticism of late. The regulatory authority will also have adequate powers to penalise channels, which do not accord to parameters set by the authority.
Meanwhile, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), the association of broadcasting companies, said that it was working on a code of conduct covering various aspects of broadcasting. The areas covered by the code include programming, scheduling, reporting of news, and accountability of information.