Saturday, December 10, 2022
HomeIndiaTV norms seek telecast of national interest content | India News

TV norms seek telecast of national interest content | India News

NEW DELHI: The Centre’s latest amendment to the guidelines for uplinking and downlinking of satellite television channels in India has made it obligatory for TV channels to undertake “public service broadcasting (PSB)”, or telecast content in national and public interest on subjects of national importance defined by the government, for at least 30 minutes every day.
The amended guidelines, sanctioned by the Union Cabinet, say that “since airwaves frequencies are public property and need to be used in the best interest of the society”, broadcasters (barring sports and foreign channels that are only downlinked in India) are required to telecast content on socially relevant themes spanning education and spread of literacy, agriculture and rural development, health and family welfare, science and technology, welfare of women, welfare of the weaker sections of society, protection of environment and of cultural heritage, and national integration.
Union I&B secretary Apurva Chandra clarified that the government would not provide curated content to broadcasters and that they would be free to develop their own content on the given themes, but that the ministry would, in due course, institute a mechanism to ensure compliance at the broadcasters’ level. “We will release a detailed clarification and advisory on how this is to be implemented following additional deliberationswith channels,” Chandra said.
The Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking Satellite Television Channels in India were first put in place in 2005 and revised in 2011. The latest amendment, which comes 11 years after the first revision, takes a leaf out of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations on ‘Issues relating to theentry of certain entities into Broadcasting and Distribution activities’ in 2008, where the authority had recommended that the government should put in place public service broadcasting obligations on every broadcaster.
TRAI had, among other suggestions, also recommended that the I&B ministry evolve a “suitable scheme for reimbursement, either in full or in part, of the costs of production of such programmes” as approved and certified by it as fit for PSB obligation, or consider establishing a PSB Obligation Fund with seed money from the Centre.
The ministry has not clarified, as yet, whether such a provision or fund shall be put in place.
Apart from the PSB obligations, the consolidated guidelines, the I&B ministry said, have eased compliance mechanisms for TV channels registered in India to obtain permissions for uplinking and downlinking, do away with the need for prior permission for live telecast of events, and allows Indian teleports to uplink foreign channels.
Ina bid to pitch India as an uplinking hub, the ‘Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of Television Channels in India, 2022’ also allow limited liability partnerships and firms to uplink foreign channels from Indian teleports and beam content in countries with satellite footprints. This is expected to allow channels in countries like Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal to uplink from India, instead of Singapore, the preferred hub.

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