Mumbai: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has announced Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill 2023, to establish a consolidated legal framework for the entire broadcasting sector, seeking to replace the existing Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 or any other policy guidelines currently governing the broadcasting sector in the country.
The Bill streamlines regulatory processes, has extended its purview to cover the OTT content and digital news, and introduces contemporary definitions and provisions for emerging technologies. It seeks to provide for a ‘Content Evaluation Committees’ and a ‘Broadcast Advisory Council’ for self-regulation, different program and advertisement code for different Broadcasting Network Operators, accessibility measures for persons with disabilities, and statutory penalties, etc.
Key highlights of the bill are:
1 Consolidation and Modernisation: It addresses the long-standing need of consolidating and updating 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.
2 Contemporary Definitions and Future-Ready Provisions: To keep pace with the evolving technologies and services, the bill introduces comprehensive definitions for contemporary broadcasting terms and incorporates provisions for emerging broadcasting technologies.
3 Strengthens the Self-Regulation Regime: It enhances self-regulation with the introduction of ‘Content evaluation committees’ and evolves the existing Inter-Departmental Committee into a more participative and broader ‘Broadcast Advisory Council’.
4 Differentiated Programme Code and Advertisement Code: It allows for a differentiated approach to Programme and Advertisement Codes across various services and requires self-classification by broadcasters and robust access control measures for restricted content.
5 Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities: The bill addresses the specific needs of persons with disabilities by providing for enabling provisions for issue of comprehensive accessibility guidelines.
6 Statutory Penalties and Fines: 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.
7 Equitable Penalties: 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.
8 Infrastructure Sharing, Platform Services and Right of Way: The bill also includes provisions for infrastructure sharing among broadcasting network operators and carriage of platform services. Further, it streamlines the Right of Way section to address relocation and alterations more efficiently, and establishes a structured dispute resolution mechanism.