Government Proposes Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023

LI Network

Published on: November 11, 2023 at 12:16 IST

The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has introduced the Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, seeking to overhaul the existing regulatory framework for broadcasting services, including DTH, OTT platforms, and digital news platforms.

This move is part of an effort to replace the outdated Cable TV Networks (Regulations) Act of 1995 and other policy guidelines governing the sector.

The draft bill, now open for public consultation, outlines several key provisions. It aims to establish content evaluation committees with independent members, a more participative Broadcast Advisory Council for self-regulation, and introduces a differentiated approach for program and advertisement codes, along with statutory penalties.

Rationale and Need for the Bill:

The Ministry emphasizes the necessity for a more cohesive approach in light of the digitization of the broadcasting sector, especially in cable TV. The proposed legislation aims to enhance adherence to the Programme Code and Advertisement Code by broadcasters and Distribution Platform Operators, ensuring ease of doing business and a streamlined regulatory framework.

Scope of the Bill:

The Bill extends its regulatory purview to cover Over-the-Top (OTT) content and digital news, addressing the evolving landscape of the broadcasting sector. It introduces contemporary definitions and provisions for emerging technologies, providing a comprehensive legislative framework.

Key Highlights and Features:

  • Content Evaluation Committees and Broadcast Advisory Council: The bill introduces these bodies for self-regulation, addressing the long-standing need for consolidating and updating regulatory provisions.
  • Differentiated Approach: It proposes different program and advertisement codes for various Broadcasting Network Operators, ensuring tailored regulations.
  • Accessibility Measures: The bill includes measures for persons with disabilities, ensuring comprehensive accessibility guidelines.
  • Statutory Penalties: It introduces penalties such as advisory, warning, censure, or monetary penalties for operators and broadcasters, with imprisonment and fines reserved for serious offenses.

Balanced Regulation and Fairness:
The bill emphasizes a balanced approach to regulation by linking monetary penalties and fines to the financial capacity of entities, ensuring fairness and equity. It includes provisions for infrastructure sharing among broadcasting network operators and carriage of platform services.

Structured Dispute Resolution and Transparency:
The proposed legislation streamlines the Right of Way section, establishing a structured dispute resolution mechanism. The Ministry aims to usher in a new era of transparency, self-regulation, and future-ready broadcasting services in the country.

Public Consultation:
The Ministry invites feedback and comments on the Bill from various stakeholders, including domain experts, broadcasting services providers, and the general public. Interested parties can send their comments to jsb-moib[at]gov[dot]in within 30 days from the date of the press release.

In conclusion, the Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, represents a significant step towards modernizing and regulating the broadcasting sector in India, aligning with the dynamic changes in technology and media consumption.

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