NEW DELHI: The information and broadcasting ministry has solicited public comments on the Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, which, once enacted, will replace the three-decade-old Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995 (CTN Act).
ET first reported on the ministry’s plans to introduce the bill.
The bill, which is divided into six chapters, 48 sections and three schedules, aims to expedite regulatory processes, broaden its scope to include over-the-top (OTT) and digital news platforms, and incorporate modern definitions and provisions for emerging technologies.
While the CTN Act of 1995 applies to TV broadcasters and cable TV operators such as multi-system operators and local cable operators, the proposed law will include content platforms such as TV channels, FM radio and OTT, as well as distributors such as cable TV, direct-to-home (DTH), headend in the sky (HITS) and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV).
According to the draft bill, OTT broadcasting services will not include a social media intermediary or a user of such an intermediary, as specified in provisions under the Information Technology Act of 2000.
The draft bill also states that barring Prasar Bharati and Sansad TV, the central and state governments, local governing bodies, public authorities and political parties are not eligible for registration as broadcasters or broadcasting network operators.
It also says these entities will have to cease operations or transfer their operations to eligible individuals, even if they are providing broadcasting services or operating a broadcasting network under authorisation from the central government. This clause will impact the Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh governments which own and operate services such as Arasu Cable TV Corporation and Andhra Pradesh State FiberNet.
The ministry said the idea behind introducing the draft is to replace the current fragmented regulatory framework with a comprehensive law and to consolidate numerous broadcasting services under a single legislative framework.
The ministry has asked stakeholders and the general public to provide feedback on the proposed legislation within 30 days.
The ministry intends to establish self-regulation through content evaluation committees and a broadcast advisory council. It also aims to provide programme and advertisement codes for various broadcasting network providers, as well as accessible measures for people with disabilities and statutory penalties.
The proposed bill includes statutory consequences for operators and broadcasters, such as advisory, warning, censure and monetary fines. Only serious offences will result in jail time or penalties.
Monetary penalties and fines are proportional to an entity’s financial capacity, taking investment and turnover into account.
The bill also includes provisions for infrastructure sharing among broadcasting network operators and the carriage of platform services.
Besides, it streamlines the Right of Way section to manage relocation and alterations more rapidly and introduces a structured dispute resolution procedure.
Source: The Economic Times