New Delhi: Various news channels have come together to set up a broadcasting authority to monitor content as a part of the TV news industry's attempt to ensure self regulation.
A declaration issued by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) on Friday emphasised that censorship and free speech are “sworn enemies” and a self-regulatory mechanism is needed to stay within the framework of ethics and law.
Channel content is an issue that continues to be a bone of contention between the Government and private broadcasters.
Earlier in the year, in what seemed like bad news for private TV channels, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had set up a media-monitoring centre to keep a tab on channel content.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry had argued that the main focus of the set up would be to keep track of programmes that violate the Programmes and Advertising Codes under Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
The Code prescribed under the proposed Broadcasting Bill had, however, come under fire from TV channels who said that the step only goes on to show that the Government “wants to have its own way” even though it is aware of the broadcasters’ views on content regulation.
How it came about
To resolve the issue with minimum state interference, the channels have made this first-ever initiative.
The association of private news and current affairs broadcasters in India and the NBA has announced the constitution and establishment of the ‘News Broadcasting Standards (Disputes Redressal) Authority’.
The Authority will enforce Code of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards as per the Broadcasters’ association rules.
This move is meant to keep the outside regulatory authorities away from the operations of the media.
Who will watch the media
The new set up will comprise a nine-member committee, which will be chaired by formerly Chief Justice of India and former Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, Justice J S Verma.
His team comprises of eminent persons from various walks of life, viz. historian and author, Ramachandra Guha; former president of NASSCOM, Kiran Karnik; eminent sociologist, Dipankar Gupta; economist, Nitin Desai; MD India TV, Vinod Kapri; Group Editor, Zee News B V Rao, Managing editor, Star news Milind Khandekar and Editor-in-Chief, Times Now, Arnab Goswami.
The NBA had committed to the Government, that as a measure of self-regulation it would put in place a Code of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards to be followed by its Members; and a News Broadcasting Standards.
The NBA has submitted the proposal on content regulation to the I&B ministry. The move has been welcomed by the government and October 2, 2008 has been set-up as the date to begin operations. Soon, content from electronic media will go under its own scanners.
(Inputs from Smitha Nair)