Renewal of TV licences: Self-regulatory bodies to be consulted

New Delhi: The information and broadcasting ministry has notified the uplinking guidelines for TV channels, but has softened the contentious renewal clause amid an outcry from TV channels, saying self-regulatory bodies will be consulted before taking any such decision.

Two months ago, the cabinet had approved amended guidelines for the uplinking and downlinking of TV channels and toughened criteria for entry to weed out non-serious players from “crowding the electronic media landscape”.

However, the renewal clause in the amended guidelines elicited sharp criticism from TV channels who decried it as a plot by the government to control the media.

The renewal clause had empowered the government not to renew the licence if the channels were found guilty of violating the terms and conditions of permission, including violations of the Programme and Advertisement Code, on five occasions or more.

Since then, the heads of leading TV channels appealed to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Sonia and also met her to retract or alter the clause.

In the guidelines notified early this week, the ministry appears to have softened the clause and added a qualifying line, saying it will consult the self-regulatory mechanisms of TV channels to see what constitutes an offence.

“What would constitute a violation would be determined in consultation with the established self-regulating mechanisms,” says the clause in the notified guidelines.

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