Saturday, November 12, 2005

New Policy Guidelines for Television Channels Issued

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued a press release about the New guidelines for downlinking television channels. The detailed policy guidelines are available from the ministry's site.

The crux of the guideline is the sports broadcasting issue, about which I have written here quite a bit. Certain notified sports events will have to be shared with Prasar Bharati - in particular all future cricket matches, whether such matches are played outside the country or within India.

A channel violating this guideline cannot be shown in India.

Basically every television channel that wants to be seen in India must register with the MIB by agreeing to adhere to the guidelines mentioned above. Any channel failing to register as per the guidelines should not be shown in India. The liability will be on the cable operator. The note at the end of the guideline document says as follows:
No cable operator or DTH service provider shall, after the expiry of 180 days from the date of this notification, carry or include in his cable/DTH network any television channel that has not been registered under these guidelines. Amendments to this effect in the Cable Television Network Rules 1994 and DTH guidelines are being notified separately.
Thus the onus on which channel to show or not is placed on the local cable operator (or the DTH operator).

Thus, if an individual who doesn't wish to re-broadcast the channel can still tune to any channel (even the ones not registered with the Government of India) available to him over the satellite (if he has the right decoder). It is only the distributor who is prevented from distributing the channels not registered with the Government - at least as of now.

As I have remarked before, no time has been given to channels to react. Like the CBSE bylaw change, this government is steamrolling its way into controversial orders. It doesn't even take the legislature into confidence. None of this is debated in the Loksabha. And, despite this, our President bemoans that the executive in this country has no independence and is being subjected to legislative and judicial examination on each one of its actions.

Our executive is getting out of control and deserves to be immediately unseated in the next elections. It has no respect for the democratic process at all!

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