In May 1997, the Broadcasting Bill was introduced in parliament The bill makes it mandatory for all channels whether Indian or foreign to transmit their programs from Indian territory Licenses for satellite channels will be granted only to Indian companies and they would be allowed up to 49% foreign equity No foreign equity for terrestrial channels would be allowed
The bill bans cross-media ownership and foreign ownership No advertising agencies, religious bodies, political parties or publicly funded bodies will be granted a license to own a Television company
In India, Radio and Television broadcasting have been a monopoly of the Central Government. The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, a law enacted by the British, has been used to bar private entrepreneurs from entering the broadcasting arena.
All this suddenly changed with the advent of the satellite TV in this part of the world in early 1990s. As demand for information and entertainment grew, entrepreneurs, mostly in the informal sector, started setting up small cable TV operations all over the country.
The telecommunication revolution had suddenly arrived on the Indian horizon, virtually bypassing the government. Inevitably this gave rise to a lot of discussion in the media and elsewhere about "cultural invasion", "promotion of consumerism", "possibility of propaganda and misinformation campaigns from abroad", etc. There was even some talk about the feasibility of banning satellite dish antennas.
First, the government reacted by enacting the Cable TV Network Act, 1994. It sought toregulate the thousands of cable TV operators.
In the next year the Supreme Court ruled that "the broadcasting media should be under the control of the public as distinct from the government." It also held that the electromagnetic spectrum was a public property and not a state monopoly. The Court directed the Central Government to "take immediate steps to establish an independent public authority representing all sections and interests in the society to control and regulate the use of the Airwaves."
It has taken the government two years to come up with the Broadcast Bill, 1997
The Bill aims to provide a "level playing field to Indian entities" and "facilitating private broadcasting" to ensure "variety and plurality of programmes required in different regions and different sections of society in our vast country."
The Bill seeks to set up an "autonomous" Broadcasting Authority of India (BAI) to regulate broadcasting by licensing broadcasters, allocating frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum, monitor quality, cost and content of service.
Bill will become "catalyst for social change", "promotion of values of Indian culture" by curbing monopolistic trends and ensuring competition.
The new broadcast regulations of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) will not only cover television content but also films. With the new guidelines, the ministry plans to regulate depictions of terrorism, violence, armed forces, religion, communal issues and obscenity in the movies.
Aims to provide strong centralized regulation of cable and broadcasting An aim to regulate certain aspects of carriage and content of broadcasting No broadcasting service would be possible without obtaining a license in this regard License to be obtained from a statutory body
The draft bill proposes to set up an independent Broadcasting Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) and one its major functions would be monitoring and regulation of content The broadcast bill has been embroiled in controversy as many fear that the statute and the proposed content code may be used by the government to control and muzzle the electronic media.
The issue came into sharp focus after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks when the government felt that the 24/7 competitive coverage of the carnage by TV channels had compromised national security by giving away to the attackers details of the movement of the security forces and of the civilians trapped in Mumbai’s Taj Hotel
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni has stressed on debate among stakeholders to evolve a consensus on the contentious issue
Every service provider to register his TV or Radio channel with the Broadcasting Regulatory authority of India BRAI – Proposed independent regulator for the broadcasting sector
Content that is obscene or vulgar Of a terrorist organisation Copyright protected Of a Foreign channel
In the event of a war or a natural calamity of a national magnitude Power of the central govt to take over the management and control of any broadcasting service or any facility connected with it
Restrictions imposed on accumulation of interest An attempt to prevent media consolidation To prevent monopoly across different segments of the media Broadcast bill to cover the content of advertisements