TV Channels' self-regulatory authority becomes operational

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New Delhi, Oct 2 (UNI) Private Broadcasters of news and current affairs today put in place a self-regulatory authority which would listen to complaints against undesirable and objectionable content telecast on TV channels.

Alongwith the new self-regulatory mechanism, the broadcasters, who have come together under a body called News Broadcasters Association (NBA), also released a code of ethics and broadcasting standards against which conduct of TV channels is to be measured.

The nine-Member Authority, called the News Broadcasting Standards (Disputes Redressal) Authority, which started functioning from today, is headed by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma.

If a complaint against a broadcaster is found justified, the Authority may issue a warning or admonition or impose a fine of Rs one lakh. And if the TV channel concerned still persists in violation of the code, the Authority may recommend suspension or revocation of its licence to the government.

A person will have to pay a fee of Rs 1000 for filing a complaint against the auhority, and the Authority will have the power to impose costs not exceeding Rs 10,000 in favour or against complainants.

The complaint has to be made within five days of the telecast of the programme concerned.

The Authority may also suo motu initiate proceedings against a TV channel.

It will not deal with any matter if it is sub judice.

Addressing a press conference, at which the launch of the Authority was announced, its chairman Justice Verma said self-regulation was very much needed in the media.

He said social sanction and peer pressure was far more effective than any government control..

The main features of the Code of ethics released by the NBA today were impartiality and objectivity in reporting, ensuring that crime and violence were not glorified, concealing the identity of women and children who have been victim of violence, no depiction of nudity and explicit sexual activity, or acts of sexual perversion or use of sexually suggestive language, no intrusion of privacy except for strictly larger public interest, no telecast of any material or programme endangering national security, no encouragement of superstition or the occult.

The Code says that sting operations were to be conducted only as a last resort to bring out the truth in public interest.

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