03/05/2017 6:22 PM IST | Updated 03/05/2017 6:22 PM IST

Govt Plans Regulatory Body For Grievances Against 'Inappropriate' TV And Radio Content

Smart administration or infringement of the right to free speech?

Johnny Haglund

The Central government is putting in place a grievance redressal system for those who want to register complaints against 'inappropriate' content on television and radio.

Currently, viewers or listeners can register their complaint with the district magistrate or with self-regulatory bodies such as the Advertising Standards Council of India, and the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) for entertainment TV channels.

However, now, there will be a more centralised mechanism in place for the purpose, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.

A similar proposal for a centralised grievance redressal system had been mooted during the last NDA regime, but it was never implemented.

According to a report in the Asian Age, people can now register their complaint with the chairman of the district-level monitoring committee or can directly do it on the online portal of the department of public grievances.

The move has raised questions about free speech and the government's involvement in the content aired by private television and radio channels.

Content aired by private and local TV channels, private FM channels and community radio stations has to be in accordance with the Programme Code and Advertisement Code of the Cable Television, Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.

According to this act, programmes cannot criticise friendly countries, attack a religion or a community, be obscene or derogatory in any way, or incite violence.

To dispel fears that the government's move was aimed at muzzling free speech, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has said that the Supreme Court, in January 2017, had asked the Central government to set up a centralised mechanism for the redressal of grievances against private TV and radio channels.

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