The Union Ministry for Information and Broadcasting has proposed changes to the Cable Television Act which would not only increases a tenfold pecuniary penalty for violation of the programming or advertising codes, it also brings more services under the ambit of the I&B Ministry as there were earlier.
According to draft changes to the Cable TV Act, the I&B ministry has defined Ground Based Channels, Platform Services—which had come under the lime light after NaMo TV was found to be beyond the regulatory purview during general elections—and Satellite TV channels, and had defined, Distribution Platform Operators, DTH, Headend-in-the-Sky, Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), Local Cable Operators, and Multi System Operators. Also, Ground-Based Channels, Platform Services and Satellite TV channels have also been defined.
Some of the most significant changes to the exiting Cable TV Act include changing the punishment for violation of either the Programming Code of the Advertising Code proscribed.
It has increased the fine for the first offence from one thousand to ten thousand rupees, along with a two-year term, from fifty thousand from five thousand with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years earlier.
The proposed law mentions that any violation of the two codes could lead to either “issuing advisory, or censure, or warning”; “prohibition of transmission of offending programme;” “apology scroll specifying the date and time;” or “prohibition of transmission of the channel for a period not exceeding thirty days’ otherwise, in “the Central Government may cancel the permission granted to the channel after giving due opportunity to the channel” provided, it states, “that no such action shall be taken without giving the Broadcaster/ DPO/ cable operator an opportunity of being heard”.
The proposed change is the first time that the government has tried to include platform services under TV regulation. The service had come under the limelight when a NaMo TV, which was available across DTH platforms, masquerading as a platform service during the model code of conduct period in run up to the 2019 general elections with content promotional to BJP or Narendra Modi.
Though BJP had owned up to the platform service later, none of the DTH operators, on which the channel was available, was able to provide a reasonable answer about it at the time.
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