Objectionable TV content issue raised in Indian Parliament

New Delhi:With members of parliament
voicing concern over objectionable content on TV channels, the
government Tuesday said it was open to an all-party meeting to discuss
the issue, but made it clear it was against issuing any diktat.


“I
have no objection if a law is made after an all-party meeting is
convened by the prime minister in which views of everyone are taken in
writing,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said while
replying to a supplementary during question hour in the Lok Sabha.


“We
are getting views. After collating the views, we want to bring a law
which is beyond the self-regulatory body which has been set up,” she
added.


Soni informed the upper house that a draft Broadcasting
Services Regulation Bill has already been posted on the ministry’s
website and a final bill could be brought for parliament’s consideration
after getting feedback from various stakeholders.


Soni stressed
that the “media is a sensitive matter, no matter what we say”, and
added that it was important to get the views of those who would be
affected by the bill.


Narrating her own experiences, Soni said as
a mother and grandmother, she herself was “worried” at some of the the
content being broadcast on TV channels. However, she made it clear that
without discussion, any “fatwa based on law” or direction on the subject
will simply not do.


The minister added that a two-tier
self-regulatory system is in place to monitor the contents on TV
channels. Under the first tier, the channels themselves check the
output. The tier two consists of a regulatory mechanism comprising a
13-member body.


Around 300 complaints have been received by the
body since June last year, Soni said, adding that monetary fine was
imposed on one channel.


The tricky issue of content regulation, a
move vigorously opposed by the electronic media, also came up during a
debate on the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Second Amendment
Bill.


Soni was responding to concerns expressed by many MPs, who
contended that TV channels were broadcasting indecent and obscene
content.


Advertisements shown on TV channels, including during
news programmes, were so “indecent” and “obscene” that these could not
be watched with family members, complained Shailender Kumar of the
Samajwadi Party.


Maheshwar Hazari of the JD-U also complained
that programmes telecast on TV channels were simply not worth watching
with family members.

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