Union Minister of State (independent charge) for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore assured the Lok Sabha that there are enough checks and safeguards for content on television, including news. Rathore said that there are fora, including Advertising Standards Council of India for advertisements, Broadcasting Content Complaints Council for TV content, News Broadcasting Standards Authority for TV news and an Inter-Ministerial Council to address any complaints regarding content on TV.
Rathore was responding to a Private Member’s Bill titled Television Broadcasting Companies (Regulation) Bill, 2015, which was introduced by Prahlad Singh Patel and aimed at regulating how TV broadcast companies should shut down. However, various aspects to regulate content on TV, especially news, were brought up during the discussion.
The minister said “that there should be accountability” and the government has “ensured it at many levels”. Rathore said “if any viewer feels there is a violation, they can write to these (fora)”. There are many laws, some pertaining to the I&B ministry, and others related to ministries which take care of the medium, he said.
There are more than 800 channels, Rathore said, and with the internet “this is an explosion” of channels, “which will grow not reduce”. Regarding the quality of content, Rathore assured the House that “market forces” have the capacity to take care of it as there is a “natural sense of competition”. “Whoever is the best will grow,” he said.
If channels close down, the competent people can get a job in other places, and the Companies Act has several provisions for the issues of employees’ welfare, the I&B minister said. He also mentioned that several channels are now showing positive news, including Doordarshan, as some members had stated that negative news was spreading negativity in the country.
On apprehensions over the qualifications of people employed by the channels, Rathore said that channels “have to develop faith” of the viewers in their content. Introducing the Bill, Patel had said that someone must ensure accountability of the channels. The intention was to ensure welfare of the employees of channels that shut down without notice, but Patel also wanted the House to debate other aspects. Patel, a BJP member from Narsinghpur, agreed to withdraw the Bill.