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Concerns on draft Broadcasting bill too premature: I&B Secretary tells broadcasters

In an exclusive interview with BestMediaInfo.com, I&B Secretary Apurva Chandra says that the consultation process will be exhaustive and it may take about 1.5 years for the draft bill to be presented in the Parliament. He says he does not see any reason for any broadcaster to panic at this stage

Apurva Chandra

Documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan last week won an award for his latest documentary film “The World is Family” at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. However, it is alleged that no broadcaster – both television and OTT – was ready to telecast that film in India.

Prima-facie S&P teams at the broadcasters’ end deny such documentaries that target one community fearing any social backlash.

Also read: CEC, Broadcast Advisory Council to strengthen self-regulation: I&B Ministry

Now the mandate for broadcasters to appoint a content evaluation committee in the draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, has caused a lot of apprehension as the broadcasters allege that it will lead to pre-censorship.

Putting an end to the apprehensions, Apurva Chandra, Secretary, Information and Broadcasting told BestMediaInfo.com that the proposed bill has been shared for consultation and the industry should come forward with their apprehensions regarding the provisions instead of creating any sort of fear.

“The consultation process will be exhaustive and it may take about a year and a half for the draft bill to be presented in the Parliament. I do not see any reason for any broadcaster to panic at this stage,” Chandra said.

“The provisions of CEC are clearly mentioned in the draft. The intent is only about ensuring transparency at the broadcaster’s end. It is a kind of self-declaration of the names of eminent people appointed by broadcasters themselves, who have seen and approved the content. The government was only coming into the picture when there were big issues including national security or possible law and order situation and it will remain so in the future also,” Chandra explained.

The large broadcasters usually have dozens of members in their S&P team. However, smaller broadcasters are complaining about additional financial burdens if they have to appoint a CEC.

When asked, Chandra said while there may be no issue with the content carried by the large broadcasters, it is smaller television broadcasters or OTT players who are pushing all sorts of frivolous content.

“I do not see any reason why should the smaller broadcasters not have a check, that too by a CEC of their own,” the I&B secretary said.

When asked if his ministry did any impact analysis before introducing the idea of CEC, Chandra said that the proposed bill is in the process of consultation and we will study the apprehensions shared by the industry. “The impact analysis will be done during the consultation process.”

As we aim to be the global content hub, we expect a huge content to be produced in India and CEC will aid the country in producing quality content, Chandra concluded.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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