MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has issued guidelines to define the role of the State and District Monitoring Committees for private television channels.
As per the Government of India Order of September 2005, District and State Level Monitoring Committees were to be set up to enforce Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. The new guidelines have been issued to ensure effective functioning of the Committees.
The main provisions of the guidelines are as under:
Scope of the District Level Committee
Â· To provide a forum where the public may lodge a complaint regarding content aired over cable television and take action on the same as per procedure prescribed herein.
Â· To review the action taken by Authorized Officers for enforcement of Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
Â· To immediately bring to the notice of State and Central Government if any program is affecting public order or wide spread resentment in any community.
Â· To keep a watch on content carried by cable television channels at local level and to ensure, through Authorized Officers, that no unauthorized or pirated channels are carried and local news if aired by the cable television operator is restricted to information about local events and is presented in a manner which is balanced impartial and not likely to offend or incite any community.
Â· To monitor the availability of free to air channels and channels notified for mandatory carriage on the cable network.
A complaint Cell headed by a nodal Officer at District level should be established and wide publicity be given regarding the constitution of Monitoring Committee and procedure followed by it, including putting it on website of the State/UT.
In case the complaint concerns content carried locally by Cable TV Network at its own level, the Committee may call for footage/VCD of the program/advertisement against which complaint is considered and the common pool of wisdom available within the Committee may form a view about whether a violation has taken place. In case the Committee is of the view that violation has taken place, the Authorized Officer may take action as per the Act.
In case the complaint pertains to national/regional satellite channels, the Committee may forward its recommendations through the State-level Monitoring Committee to the Government of India for dealing with the issue.
In case it is found that a cable network operator is not carrying channels prescribed for mandatory carriage or is carrying them in such a manner that the signal is too poor to be properly visible or audible, the Committee, through Authorized Officer, may direct the cable network to ensure proper carriage of the same and take any other action it may consider necessary under Section 11.
State-level Monitoring Committee
The constitution of both State and District-level Committees to enforce the Cable TV Networks Rules was envisaged but the constitution of the State-level Committee was not specified. The constitution of the State-level Committee is hereby specified as follows:
(i) Secretary, Information & Public Relations – Chairman of the State.
(ii) Representative of the DG of State Police – Member
(iii) Secretary, Social Welfare Department – Member of the State
(iv) Secretary, Women & Child Development – Member of the State
(v) Representative of a leading NGO of the – Member State working for women (to be nominated by Chief Secretary)
(vi) Academicians/Psychologists/Sociologists – Member (one each to be nominated by Chief Secretary)
(vii) Director (Information) of the State – Member Secretary Functions
The functions of the State Level Monitoring Committee will be:
Â· To see whether District/Local Committees have been formed and are meeting regularly.
Â· To see whether the authorized officers are effectively performing their duties.
Â· To give suggestion/guidance to District/Local Level Committee.
Â· To take decision on the matters referred to it by District/Local level Committee.
Â· To recommend action and forward complaints against satellite channels (National Channels) to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting through the Chief Secretary of the State in cases of violation of Government of India’s orders on the Programme and Advertising Codes.
It had been noticed that the enforcement of the said Act in many parts of the country was not satisfactory either due to lack of clear understanding of the role of the District Monitoring Committees or a suitable mechanism to enforce the provisions of the Act. No State except J&K, has reported the constitution of a State level committee. Also, an increasing number of petitions are being received in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, from viewers regarding malpractices by Cable Operators and undesirable content being shown at the local level by the cable operators.