From January next year, a specialist cell will keep a hawk-eyed vigil on what is beamed into your homes — from news capsules to smutty videos — 24 hours a day.
The watchdogs: the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre, which the government will soon set up.
The decision shows that the government is determined to push ahead its plan to monitor television content despite the fact that the debate over the “draconian” Broadcasting Bill is yet to be settled.
The monitoring cell is, in fact, intended to give more teeth to the proposed Broadcasting Regulatory Authority. The centre will monitor all the channels beamed into India, including foreign channels, and will maintain records of the content which violate different broadcasting rules.
“The monitoring unit is being put in place so that channels adhere to the advertising and the programme code as notified under the Cable Network (Regulation) Act, 1995 or the new content code proposed under the new Broadcast Bill,” said a ministry official.
At a later stage, the government might even monitor content on India beamed to foreign countries. “The monitoring will be done to keep the government abreast with how India is being projected in the outside world,” an official explained.
The decision has its origin in a letter written by home secretary V.K. Duggal to his counterpart in the information and broadcasting ministry S.K. Arora in April this year, complaining about some news channels “sensationalizing” incidents of terrorism and riots. He had requested the ministry to bring in a monitoring mechanism for television channels.
Now, the ministry is dependent only on complaints from citizens to take action against the channels. Now, it can take suo moto action on basis of the information provided by the centre, an official said.