TV channels to come out with draft of their own content code soon

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New Delhi, Jan 11 (UNI) TV channels, which are under increasing pressure to subject themselves to some check regarding the content of their programmes, will be handing over a draft of the content code to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting before this month.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting itself is under direction from the court to give its views on the issue and apprise it of the status of attempt to bring in the regulation. In a decision given last month, the Delhi Court, while responding to a set of PILs, had asked the Ministry to come with its response within ten weeks.

Accordingly, the Ministry has called a meeting of stakeholders in the second half of this month to take their inputs, an official said.

The need to bring in some regulation became urgent following the infamouse Uma Khurana sting operation in which the Delhi school teacher was falsely framed in a prostutition racket recently, which finally led to the ban on the channel concerned for a month.

The News Broadcasters Association(NBA) has promised to the Ministry to come out with their proposals by January 31, while the Indian Broadcasting Foundation(IBF) has called a meeting of its members in Mumbai on January 15 to discuss the issue.

An IBF official told UNI their preliminary draft was ready and it will be subjected to threadbare discussion at the Mumbai meeting following which another version may be drafted to be submitted to the Ministry.

However, NBA said it had formulated its own code and a grievance redressal mechanism and handed over the draft to senior advocate and former solicitor general of India Harish Salve, who has been helpingthe Association in the preparation of the code.

''Since, we deal with the news and current affairs, our issues are very different. The IBF is drafting code relating to entertainment programmes which would require different parameteres,'' an NBA official said.

''We have given ourselves a deadline of January 31, and told the Ministry that we would abide by that,'' the official said.

The Editors Guild is also working on a model code and a self-regulation mechanism.

The government's attempt to bring in some regulation in the broadcasting sector and impose a sort of content code was met with stiff resistance by the media world a year back, and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had to come out with several revised drafts, but all were rejected by the broadcasters, who said they should be better left to devise self-regulation.

The Ministry, after months of public debate and consultations with the stakeholders, had finally agreed to the idea of the TV channels coming up with their own content code, while putting the controversial Broadcasting Bill in the cold storage.

The broadcasters had expressed fear that a government imposed regulation would stifle the media.


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