The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) at a press conference held in New Delhi on May 2, 2011, announced that the Board of Directors of IBF had approved a ‘Self Regulatory Guidelines and Complaints Redressal Mechanism’ for all non- news and current affairs TV channels, including GECs, children and special interest channels. The new guidelines will come into effect from the first week of June 2011. Non-IBF member channels will also come under the purview of the mechanism.
The redressal mechanism will be a two-tier process. The first-tier process will provide viewer an opportunity to complain at the broadcaster/ channel level. And, in the event of no response or an unsatisfactory response from the broadcaster/ channel, in the second tier, the complainant can approach the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) at the industry level, which will have 13 members. Justice AP Shah, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, is the Chairperson of the BCCC. The other members of BCCC include four non-broadcaster members, four members from national level Statutory Commissions and four broadcaster members.
Speaking on the development, Uday Shankar, President, IBF, stated, “We are happy that after a long process of contemplation and discussions, we have come up with these guidelines and mechanism. There are not many examples in the world where broadcasting member driven mechanism for content-regulation exists.”
As per the guidelines, the content of non-news channels has been classified with two codes – G and R. Generally Accessible ‘G’ programmes, which are suitable for unrestricted viewing by all viewers and/ or under Parental Guidance, can be broadcast at all times. Restricted Access ‘R’ programmes, which may not be suitable for children and young viewers, can only be broadcast from 11 pm to 5 am.
When asked that how this body would ensure that the R-rated content of non-news channels are not being broadcast by the news channels during normal hours, Haresh Chawla, Group CEO, Network18 and Viacom 18, replied, “This decision is up to the discretion of the editors of news channels. They can certainly broadcast the relevant content and clips from the R-rated programmes.”
To make viewers aware of how to make a complaint when they find something not appropriate in the content of any particular channel, every channel would be publishing the necessary details to make viewers aware of their rights, informed Puneet Goenka, Director, Zee News Ltd.
Markand Adhikari, VC and MD, Adhikari Brothers, remarked that channels had been responsible earlier too. Now, these guidelines were structured efforts that channels would follow without any ambiguity.
Meanwhile, an official note from the IBF stated that the proliferation of unregulated content provided by the local cable operators masquerading as channels showing movies and other programmes would not be regulated by these Guidelines.
IBF currently has 42 companies and 270 channels registered with it, however, this mechanism will cover even the non-IBF members. IBF members will shortly meet I&B Minister Ambika Soni to inform her about the implementation of the Self Regulatory Guidelines and Complaints Redressal Mechanism.