In the new uplinking and downlinking guidelines for private television channels effective November 9, 2022, the government made it mandatory for the TV channels to telecast content of national importance, social relevance and public interest for 30 minutes every day.
Under the clause “Obligation of public service broadcasting”, the guidelines said that airwaves frequencies are public property and they need to be used in the best interest of the society.
“A company/LLP having permission under these guidelines for uplinking a channel and its downlinking in India (other than foreign channels only downlinked in India) may undertake public service broadcasting for a minimum period of 30 minutes in a day on themes of national importance and of social relevance, including the following, namely —
(i) education and spread of literacy;
(ii) agriculture and rural development;
(iii) health and family welfare;
(iv) science and technology;
(v) welfare of women;
(vi) welfare of the weaker sections of the society;
(vii) protection of environment and of cultural heritage; and
(viii) national integration.
“The channels may, for the purpose, appropriately modulate their content to fulfil the obligation referred to in sub-para (1), except where it may not be feasible, such as in the
case of sports channels, etc.,” the new guidelines said.
The Central Government may, from time to time, issue general advisory to the channels for telecast of content in national interest, and the channel shall comply with the same, the guidelines said.
Speaking to the media, I&B Secretary Apurva Chandra said that this obligation is new and the ministry will consult the broadcasters regarding the ways to implement this.
“We will issue general advisory separately after speaking to the stakeholders regarding the modalities to fulfil the obligation to offer a 30-minute slot to content related to national and public interest,” Chandra said.
Chandra made it clear that the content under this obligation will not be provided by the government.
“The right term for this is national importance and social relevance. We have defined eight areas for this and it is up to a broadcaster to pick up any theme,” Chandra said.
“Even entertainment channels can pick any of these eight themes and make their shows around them. They already have such themes in their programming. In fact, we see feature films also around such themes. So, these themes are largely covered and it is just an addition to the new guidelines,” he added.