A new set of government guidelines will now regulate television content.
The information and broadcasting ministry has decided to review its content code after it drew flak from the courts for the falling quality of TV content.
“With the court’s intervention, we’re left with no option but to have new guidelines to regulate television content,” a senior ministry official, who didn’t wish to be identified, said. The decision was taken last week at a meeting chaired by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Anand Sharma.
A fortnight ago, the Supreme Court had asked Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam if there was a single day in a year when a family could sit together and watch TV without an assault on their values.
The court had also asked the government about the steps it had taken to ensure that “decency returned to television”. Earlier, the Delhi High Court had pulled up the government for allowing poor quality content.
Following the SC’s remarks, there was unanimity in the ministry that TV needed a stronger content code. The industry had rejected the government’s earlier versions of the code, terming it as interference in its intellectual freedom and had instead suggested a self-regulating code.
Till now, only the News Broadcasters Association has constituted a committee headed by former chief justice of India J.S. Verma for complaints. There is no such body for entertainment or sports channels even though the Indian Broadcasting Foundation has submitted a draft on self-regulation. “The government should approve the draft for us to set up a complaint redressal body,” a foundation official, not willing to be named, said.
The ministry officials, however, said the industry was not eager to regulate itself. Moreover, the programme code under the Cable Network (Regulation) Act had been found to be grossly inadequate. “We need a more comprehensive and elaborate code to protect ethos of citizens,” an official said.