Set up mechanism to hear plaints about TV content: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the government to set up, streamline and publicise a complaint redressal mechanism under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act to deal with citizens’ complaints about content telecast or aired by private TV channels and radio.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar refrained from making any comments about the functioning of the self-regulatory mechanism put in place by the media.

It refused to pass any judicial orders directing the government to monitor content aired or telecast.

“We cannot ask them [the Centre] to monitor the content of the channels. How can we do that? You can approach us or the authority concerned after telecast or airing of objectionable contents,” the Bench observed while hearing a plea by NGO Mediawatch India.

It said the issue pertained to the right of media enshrined under Article 19(1)(a) on freedom of speech and expression.

Limitation period

The Bench asked the government to frame formal guidelines on the limitation period for filing such public complaints, procedure to be followed, etc, under the Cable Network Act.

The court sought a response from the Centre on a plea made by NGO, Common Cause, to allow private FM radio stations, including community radios, to broadcast news like television channels. The apex court asked the government to reply by four weeks.

Common Cause, represented by advocates Prashant Bhushan and Kamini Jaiswal, contended that private radio stations and community radios should be allowed to broadcast news as they were more accessible for the masses.

The plea said unlike television channels, none of the 245 private FM channels and 145 community radio stations were allowed to broadcast their own news and current affairs programmes, which was the monopoly of government broadcaster Prasar Bharati.

“India is perhaps the lone democracy where dissemination of news and current affairs programmes on radio remains a monopoly of the government-owned broadcaster, which owns and operates All India Radio / Akashvani,” the NGO had contended.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 9:55:16 pm |