News Broadcasters Association’s (NBA) ‘News Broadcasting Standards (Disputes Redressal) Authority’ to enforce NBA’s Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards has come into effect from October 2. NBA had announced the constitution and establishment of the Authority in August this year.
The News Broadcasting Standards (Disputes Redressal) Authority shall perform its functions and exercise the power upon the members and associate members of NBA only, which comprises 14 broadcasters – both national and regional – representing 30 channels. The power of the Authority lies where a complaint made to the Authority has reason to believe that the broadcaster has violated or offended against the Code of Conduct. In such a case, the Authority shall impose a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the broadcaster. The fee to file a complaint with the Authority shall be Rs 1,000.
Any complaint made to the Authority in respect of or against a broadcaster shall be encumbent upon the complaint to give to the broadcasters at least seven days to respond to the complaint from the date of receipt. Any inquiry commenced shall be completed, as far as possible, within a period of three months from the date of receipt of the complaint.
The Authority shall meet at least once in two months. Quorum of such meeting shall be at least five members, including the chairperson and two members each from eminent members and editors.
The nine-member Authority is headed by former Chief Justice JS Varma. The members under the ‘Eminent Persons’ category include historian and author Ramachandra Guha; former President of Nasscom, Kiran Karnik; Prof Dipankar Gupta, well-known sociologist (JNU); Nitin Desai, economist and former Under Secretary General, United Nations. Members under the ‘Editors’ category include Vinod Kapri, Managing Editor, India TV; BV Rao, Group Editor, Zee News; Milind Khandekar, Managing Editor, Star News; and Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief, Times Now.
The chairperson and other members shall hold the office for a period of two years.
The NBA believes that media that is meant to expose the lapses in government and in public life cannot be regulated by the government, else it would lack credibility. It is a fundamental paradigm of freedom of speech that media must be free from governmental control in the matter of ‘content’ and that censorship and free speech are sworn enemies. It, therefore, falls upon the journalistic profession to evolve institutional checks and safeguards, specific to the electronic media, which can define the path that would conform to the highest standards of rectitude and journalistic ethics and guide the media in the discharge of its solemn Constitutional duty.
There are models of governance evolved in other countries, which have seen an evolution of the electronic media, including the news media, much before it developed in India. The remarkable feature of all these models is ‘self-governance’ and monitoring by a ‘jury of peers’.