After months of deliberation, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has finally announced the broadcast industry’s decision to adopt ‘Self Regulatory Guidelines and Complaints Redressal Mechanism’ to regulate content for all non-news content. IMPACT spoke to Uday Shankar, President, IBF, to gather his perspective on the recommendations and the way ahead for the industry.
You have been planning this for some time now. What were some of the setbacks that you had experienced before you could make this announcement?
You have to understand that this was the first time that the broadcast industry was working on something like this for all non-news channels. We have the NBA in place for news channels but a large set of broadcasters had to agree to the various contours of how this would shape up and that would take its time. The setbacks, as you say it, are not important at this point. This is a very progressive step from the industry. We will start soon with the BCCCC and what is adequate will evolve over a period of time. But before anything, you have to understand that this is the beginning and the not the end and as we go along, we will learn from experience and the Committee also will give us guidelines. The idea right now was to begin something like this. And we are happy we have been able to begin, as there are not many examples in the world where broadcasting member driven mechanism for content-regulation exists.
And the Ministry would agree with this step?
The Ministry, in particular Minister Ambika Soni, has mentioned time and again that the Ministry is not really interested in regulating content. The Indian broadcasting industry, however, cannot operate without any guidelines at all. The industry is growing at a fast pace, and everyone realises that it has a role to play in society and shaping opinions. India is still a single TV household and we are still talking of very large numbers of family viewership. So there has to be something that guides the industry. This is an attempt in that direction.
We have seen very large broadcasters agreeing to this. But what if someone does not follow the guidelines?
This is a question in every one’s minds, and we have been asked this question every time an attempt to discuss this subject comes up. First of all, I am very confident that we will not face this situation from IBF members. Our experience with NBA has been exactly that. So far, there is a 100 per cent record that directives that the IBF has taken to govern itself have always been followed. People put their point of view, but finally everyone respects the body that they have themselves created. A voluntary resolve is more effective than any impositions. But in the very unlikely, hypothetical situation of a member going rogue, we have retained the option, where we suggest to the Justice Shah Committee that they can recommend to the Ministry that action, as strict as revoking the channel’s license, be taken.
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