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MIB initiates Content Code discussions with broadcasters again

24-July-2009
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MIB initiates Content Code discussions with broadcasters again

Members of the Parliament have raised objections to at least two different shows on Hindi general entertainment channels in the last two weeks. The latest was the protest against Star Plus’ new reality show ‘Sach Ka Saamna’. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) had issued a show-cause notice to STAR India following the uproar in Rajya Sabha on July 22, 2009, and sped up its plans to meet members of the broadcasting industry to discuss the regulations and the Content Code. The relevant members met the MIB on July 23, 2009.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni presided over the meeting, which saw participation of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and the News Broadcasting Authority (NBA). Some of the industry members who were present at the meeting included IBF President and Essel Group’s Jawahar Goel; NBA President and TV Today’s G Krishnan; STAR India’s Uday Shankar; India TV’s Rajat Sharma; IBN Group’s Rajdeep Sardesai, and Times Global Broadcasting’s Chintamani Rao.

It is understood that the I&B Minister has given a clear indication that the Ministry’s intention was to collaborate with the industry members and take the Content Code forward in a manner that is beneficial for all involved. The preliminary discussion that took place on July 23 delved on various possibilities to take the Content Code deliberation forward, and one of the suggestions that was put forth was that a joint taskforce should be created that would include members from the broadcasting industry, film producers, production houses and so on, and the MIB to recommend a way forward for content regulation.

IBF President Jawahar Goel stated, “The Minister was very open to discussions on the matter, and I believe we would have to meet once more before we can form the taskforce and take the relevant steps on this subject.”

Speaking more on the subject, he said, “We are generating around 10,000 hours of programming every day, of which 2,000 hours is film-based content, which is in any case subjected to the Censor Board. There is also a mechanism in place for news programming. In that sense, it is not that there is no content regulation or relevant checks and balances in place. We have to take the discussion forward keeping all these points in mind.”

As is known, the broadcasting industry has been going to and fro with the government on the Content Code issue for over three years now. The issue has been stalled primarily because there has been no agreement between the industry members and the Government on what is perceived as a direct control over the freedom of the media to express itself and the freedom of the press. Media observers would know that this is a start of another long round of discussions between all involved before something is decided on this subject.

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