The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has amended the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 regulating Cable TV networks, providing for a “statutory” mechanism for complaints raised by citizens regarding any content broadcast.
It provides for a three-level grievance redressal mechanism —
- self-regulation by broadcasters,
- self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the broadcasters,
- oversight by an Inter-Departmental Committee at the level of the Union government.
Procedure for grievance redressal:
- A viewer can file a complaint directly to the broadcaster, who will have to respond within 15 days.
- If the complainant is not satisfied with the response, the complaint can be escalated to the self-regulating bodies set up by TV channels, which should deal with the case in 60 days.
- If the complainant is not satisfied with the decision of the self-regulating body, he may, within 15 days of such decision, prefer an appeal to the Central Government for its consideration under the Oversight Mechanism.
- Such appeals will be dealt with by the Inter-Departmental Committee set up under the Oversight Mechanism.
- Recommend the Centre to advise, issue a warning, censure, admonish or reprimand a broadcaster, or seek an apology.
- Ask the broadcaster to include a warning card or a disclaimer, or to delete or modify content, or take the channel or a programme off-air for a specified time period, where it is satisfied that such action is warranted.
Present Grievance redressal mechanism:
At present, there is an institutional mechanism by way of an Inter-Ministerial Committee to address the grievances of citizens relating to the violation of the Programme/Advertising Codes under the Rules, but it does not have statutory backing.
- It paves the way “for a strong institutional system for redressing grievances.
- It places accountability and responsibility on the broadcasters and their self-regulating bodies.
About the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995:
- The law prescribes imprisonment up to two years or fine up to ₹1,000 or both for the first offence, and imprisonment up to five years and with fine up to ₹5,000 if any media governed under the CTN Act violates the provisions and the “Programme Code”.
- The code, which contains an elaborate list of don’ts for cable TV channels, states that no programme should be aired that contains anything obscene, defamatory, false, and suggests innuendos and half-truths.