The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) at its Board of Directors meeting held in Delhi on July 9, 2010, unanimously approved a ‘Self Regulatory Guidelines and Complaints Redressal Mechanism’ for all non-news channels, including general entertainment, children, special interest channels.
The guidelines aim to usher in an efficient, transparent and independent self regulatory mechanism that will provide the channels with certain guiding principles for content programming, usher in a redressal mechanism for bona fide complaints from viewers, while at the same time enabling programming creativity to flourish without ad hoc intervention from various statutory authorities, and pressure groups.
The redressal mechanism will be a three-tier process: providing a viewer an opportunity to complain first at the broadcaster/ channel level, and in the event of an unsatisfactory response from the broadcaster/ channel, to complain to the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) at the industry (IBF) level, which will have seven members, including persons of eminence with a background in media as well as other diverse fields; and providing an opportunity to appeal against the order of the BCCC at the third tier, the Content Appellate Board (CAB), a body of three distinguished members chaired by a jurist, including a retired judge of the Supreme Court or the High Courts.
The guidelines aim at encouraging creativity, keeping in mind the evolving social milieu in which the channels operate and generally applicable community standards. Content will be classified under certain parameters, considering the impact of television on young children. The draft of the Self Regulatory Guidelines for the broadcasting industry placed on the I & B Ministry’s website has been studied while finalising the IBF’s Self Regulatory Guidelines. The IBF’s Board took the decision to implement the Self Regulatory Guidelines in view of the pendency of disposal of the public interest litigation in the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court and the ad hoc arbitrary notices being issued to channels under the Programming Code.
A delegation of IBF members will shortly meet with Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni to inform her of the introduction of Self Regulatory Guidelines and Compliance Redressal Mechanism and seek her Ministry’s support.
In view of the sensitivities involved in the non-news content segment and after due consideration of the observations made by various judicial forums as well as to bring non-IBF members within the ambit of Self Regulation, IBF has recommended that the Self-regulatory Content Guidelines be notified immediately for all non-news channels under the Cable Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, replacing the present Programme Code. The notification of Self-Regulatory Content Code should be delinked from the Broadcast Bill in the interest of all stakeholders of the broadcasting sector, especially the viewer.
With the introduction of these Self Regulatory Guidelines and Compliance Redressal Mechanism, and its adherence by all members of the IBF, the vast majority of all channels licensed by the Government of India will comply.
However, the IBF was concerned that the proliferation of unregulated content provided by local cable operators masquerading as channels showing movies and other programmes would not be regulated by these guidelines. In most cases, the movies shown are pirated and uncensored. These operators also put their scrolls on their channel and run their own advertisements. Since the content of such channels cannot be monitored by the IBF, the Government must immediately institute a licensing system for continued operation of these channels to avoid any viewer complaints to the IBF in this regard.