India to regulate broadcast news?

Published: Monday 30 November -0001

-- (Credit: SHYAMAL)If the ministry of information and broadcasting has its way, television programmes in India will start wearing quality tags very soon. A new set of guidelines, to come in July 2007, asks broadcasters to certify programmes into categories u, s--shown at all times--u/a--between 8 pm and 4 am--and a--between 11 pm and 4 am. This will give horror shows and spicy thrillers a break during the day; will be pushed to night or to graveyard shift. Even live shows will face snaps.

The ministry will act as a regulator for broadcast programmes and monitor editorial content. At present, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (trai) monitors the broadcast media, under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. Under the new rules, the ministry can directly restrict telecast through cable networks if a particular programme breaches the guidelines.

"We don't want to control content. We are proposing effective self-regulation for the broadcast industry," says Asha Swarup, i&b secretary. But broadcasters are not happy. "The code will restrict news channels and this step will affect the freedom of press in our democracy," says G Krishnan, ceo of Aaj Tak news channel.

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