Govt proposes Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023
The proposed draft bill, which has been released for public consultation, aims to replace the Cable TV Networks (Regulations) Act 1995 and other policy guidelines
The Union ministry of information and broadcasting on Friday invited comments on the Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023 that will provide for a consolidated framework to regulate broadcasting services including DTH, OTT and digital news platforms.
The proposed draft bill, which has been released for public consultation, aims to replace the Cable TV Networks (Regulations) Act 1995 and other policy guidelines that govern this sector.
The draft bill also provides for content evaluation committees with independent members, a more participative Broadcast Advisory Council for self-regulation, differentiated approach for programme and advertisement codes and statutory penalties, among others.
The ministry said that with the digitization of the broadcasting sector, especially in cable TV, there is a growing need to streamline the regulatory framework.
"This involves ensuring ease of doing business and enhancing adherence to the Programme Code and Advertisement Code by the broadcasters and Distribution Platform Operators. Recognising the need for a more cohesive approach, the existing fragmented regulatory framework is required to be replaced with a new, comprehensive law," the ministry said.
The bill streamlines regulatory processes, extends its purview to cover the OTT content and digital news, and introduces contemporary definitions and provisions for emerging technologies.
It also seeks to provide for content evaluation committees and a Broadcast Advisory Council for self-regulation, different programme and advertisement code for different broadcasting network operators, accessibility measures for persons with disabilities, and statutory penalties, etc.
Pointing out key highlights of the bill, the I&B ministry said it addresses a long standing need to consolidate and update the regulatory provisions for various broadcasting services under a single legislative framework. "This move streamlines the regulatory process, making it more efficient and contemporary. It extends its regulatory purview to encompass broadcasting over-the-top (OTT) content and digital news and current affairs currently regulated through IT Act, 2000 and regulations made there under," it said.
The bill also addresses the specific needs of persons with disabilities by enabling provisions for the issue of comprehensive accessibility guidelines, the ministry said. The draft bill introduces statutory penalties such as advisory, warning, censure, or monetary penalties, for operators and broadcasters.
"Provision for imprisonment and or fines remains, but only for very serious offenses, ensuring a balanced approach to regulation," it said.
It also said monetary penalties and fines are linked to the financial capacity of the entity, taking into account their investment and turnover to ensure fairness and equity.
The bill also includes provisions for infrastructure sharing among broadcasting network operators and carriage of platform services.
The ministry invites feedback and comments on the above bill from a wide range of stakeholders, including domain experts, broadcasting services providers and the general public. "The comments can be sent to email@example.com within 30 days from the date of this press release," it added.