Ambika Soni demanded strengthening of censorship mechanism

The government will soon announce a self-regulatory mechanism to monitor content on television channels, said Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni in the Lok Sabha.

Ms. Soni said the mechanism would include the setting up of an independent council, headed by a retired judge and having representatives from civil society and other stakeholders, which would help in checking the airing of vulgar content on private channels.

This mechanism would address complaints received from the civil society regarding any objectionable content on private channels. The Ministry would step in only when the action of the mechanism was not satisfactory.

The Minister was responding to concerns, voiced by National Democratic Alliance convener Sharad Yadav and N. Cheluvaraya Swamy (Janata Dal- Secular), on reality shows such as ‘Bigg Boss.' Ms. Soni demanded the strengthening of censorship for such content.

Ms. Soni said that there was no censor board for television content, which was being regulated by the Cable Regulatory Act with some uplinking and downlinking criteria for the broadcasters. The Ministry had facilities to record programmes of 300 TV channels to monitor content.

The Ministry would not like to do anything that could later be struck down by the courts, she said, citing the case where the change, effected by the Ministry in the timings of a TV show, was turned down by the High Court.

Pointing to the concerns of a high carriage fee felt by broadcasters, Ms. Soni said the Ministry, along with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, was in the process of digitalising cable television across the country. On the completion of this exercise, she said, the complaint of high carriage fees would be resolved.

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