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Explained: The new guidelines which mandate TV channels to telecast content of national interest

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New Delhi, Nov 10: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of Television Channels in India 2022. This has made it obligatory for television channels to telecast content in national and public interest.

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While the guidelines came into effect from November 9, television channels have been given time by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to conceptualise and create such content.

Explained: The new guidelines which mandate TV channels to telecast content of national interest

What the new guidelines say:

The new guidelines mandate at least 30 minutes to be given every day to telecast content pertaining to public service and national interest. Eight themes have been given to channels for creation of content.

The government justified this move by stating that the airwaves are public property and need to be used in the best interest of society.

Centre makes 30 minutes content on 'national interest' a must for TV channels Centre makes 30 minutes content on 'national interest' a must for TV channels

"As airwaves/ frequencies are public property and need to be used in the best interest of the society, a company/LLP having permission under these guidelines for uplinking a channel and its downlinking in India (other than foreign channels only downlinked in India) may undertake public service broadcasting for a minimum period of 30 minutes in a day on themes of national importance and of social relevance, including... (i) education and spread of literacy; (ii) agriculture and rural development; (iii) health and family welfare; (iv) science and technology; (v) welfare of women; (vi) welfare of the weaker sections of the society; (vii) protection of environment and of cultural heritage; and (viii) national integration," the guidelines issued by the government.

Exemption:

Secretary, Information and Broadcasting, Apurva Chandra said that after consultation with the broadcasters and other stakeholders the ministry would be issuing a specific advisory pertaining to the time slot for the telecast of such content.

Once implemented the Ministry will monitor the channels for such content and in case some is found to be non-compliant, an explanation will be sought. The condition applies to all channels except those mentioned as exempt. A detailed advisory would be issued soon, the ministry also said.

"The channels may appropriately modulate their content to fulfil the obligation except where it may not be feasible, such as in the case of sports channels, etc," the guidelines says.

The exemption will also apply to wildlife channels and foreign channels, besides live telecast in case of sports channels. The government will from time to time, issue general advisory to the channels for the telecast of content in national interest and the channel shall comply with the same, the guidelines also said.

Uplinking frequency:

The guidelines have also mandated for the television channels uplinking in frequency bands other than C-band to encrypt signals. For the plinking and downlinking of a satellite TV channel, the application shall not be subject to clearance and approval by the Ministry of Home Affairs, and wherever considered necessary, of other authorities, the guidelines also said.

While easing compliance for TV channels in various other areas, the guidelines said no prior permission needed (only registration) for live telecast of events, allowing Indian teleports to uplink foreign channels; easing permissions to the companies/LLPs registered in India for uplinking and downlinking of TV channels; and temporary of a live event.

Further the guidelines also allow a news agency to get permission for a five year period as against the one year at present. The penalty clauses have also been rationalised and separate nature of penalties have been proposed for the different types of contravention as against the present uniform penalty.

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