IBF announces self regulatory guidelines for non news channels

New Delhi: The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) in its Board of Directors meeting held on 2nd May, 2011 at Delhi unanimously approved a “Self Regulatory Guidelines and Complaints Redressal Mechanism” for all Non News channels, including general entertainment, children, special interest channels.

The Guidelines will usher in an efficient, transparent and independent self regulatory mechanism that will provide the channels with certain guiding principles for content programming, usher in a redressal mechanism for bona fide complaints from viewers, while at the same time enabling programming creativity to flourish without ad hoc intervention from various statutory authorities, and pressure groups.

The redressal mechanism will be a two tier process: providing a viewer an opportunity to complain first at the Broadcaster/ Channel level, and in the event of no response or an unsatisfactory response from the Broadcaster/ Channel to complain, to the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (“BCCC”) at the industry level, which will have thirteen members. Justice A. P. Shah former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court is the Chairperson of the BCCC. The other members of BCCC will include, four non-broadcaster Members, four Members from National level Statutory Commissions and four Broadcaster Members.

The IBF has adopted, with suitable modifications, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Self Regulation Guidelines for Broadcasting Sector draft version of 2008, which has been formulated after a comprehensive consultative process by over 40 stakeholders from across the Government, civil society, NGO’s, Industry. These Self Regulation Guidelines (Guidelines), Content Code & certification rules sets out principles, guidelines and ethical practices, which shall guide the Broadcasting Service Provider (BSP) in offering their programming services in India so as to conform to the Programme Code prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (regulations) Act 1995, irrespective of the medium/platform used for broadcasting of the programme. The IBF’s Board took the decision to implement the Self Regulatory Guidelines in view of the pendency of disposal of the public interest litigation in the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court and the ad hoc arbitrary notices being issued to channels under the Programming Code.

A delegation of IBF members will shortly meet the Honorable I & B Minister to inform her about the implementation of the Self Regulatory Guidelines and Complaints Redressal Mechanism.

In view of the sensitivities involved in the non-News content segment and after due consideration of the observations made by various judicial forums as well as to bring non-IBF members within the ambit of Self Regulation, IBF recommends that the Self-regulatory Content Guidelines be notified immediately for all Non-News channels under the Cable Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 replacing the present Programme Code. The notification of Self-regulatory Content Code should be delinked from the Broadcast Bill, in the interest of all the stakeholders of the Broadcasting Sector especially the viewer.

With the introduction of these Self Regulatory Guidelines and Compliance Redressal Mechanism, and its adherence by all members of the IBF, the vast majority of all channels licensed by the Government of India will comply. However, the IBF notes with great concern that the proliferation of unregulated content provided by Local Cable Operators masquerading as Channels showing movies and other programmes will not be regulated by these Guidelines. In most cases, the movies shown are pirated and uncensored. These operators also put their scrolls on their channel and run their own advertisements. Since the content of such channels cannot be monitored by the IBF, the Government must immediately institute a licensing system for continued operation of these channels to avoid any viewer complaints to the IBF in this regard.

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