Friday, July 17, 2009

Draft Broadcasting Bill allows Govt to regulate content

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is examining the draft Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill in consultation with various stakeholders, including State governments.

This was stated by Mr C.M. Jatua, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha

The draft Bill proposes to set up an independent Broadcasting Regulatory Authority of India whose main functions will be to regulate and monitor content.

"The proposed regulator will be empowered to issue regulations regarding the places, types and quantity of equipment to be provided by the service-providers free of cost, for monitoring of content and the manner in which such monitoring may be carried out by the licensing authorities or authorised officers under the Bill," said the Minister.

The draft Bill allows the Centre to prescribe guidelines and norms to evaluate and certify content.

If the Bill is passed, the Government can "under exceptional circumstances" direct a service provider to stop broadcasting or ask it to transmit in a manner that it suggests.

It also proposes "Authorised Officers" who will have the power to inspect, search and seize equipment of offending broadcasters.

The proposed Bill also allows the Government to prescribe eligibility conditions to restrict accumulation of interest or monopolies either across media segments or within geographical regions, at national or state level.

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