New Govt committee to screen broadcast content

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New Delhi, Jul 14: Government plans to set up a new committee to screen programmes or advertisements before broadcast.

The Centre made this move to control news channels. The proposed new committee, National Broadcast Authority of India (NBAI), will have all the powers that were part of the controversial Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill, 2007, which had to be shelved because of fears that it would have led to censorship.

NBAI will also have the power to authorise officers to block news content if public tranquility is disturbed as described under Section 19 of the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act.

NBAI will comprise one representative of the media, while the other six members will include eminent persons with 15 years of experience from fields of law, public administration, finance, IT and social work.

The I&B ministry's new move suggests that the Centre retain powers to intervene in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of the country.

But the broadcasters opposed the government's control over news content. The News Broadcasters Association (NBA), Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) and the Indian Broadcasters Federation (IBF) have argued that self-regulatory mechanism set up by the TV channels and the industry associations will adequately address the concern of the viewers.

Broadcasters also pointed out that the government already has the power to block content on any channel and, in fact, in recent times has taken severe action when it felt that the news coverage of an event was not 'appropriate'.

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