Draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023: An Overview

Published date27 November 2023
Subject MatterMedia, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment, IT and Internet, Advertising, Marketing & Branding, Broadcasting: Film, TV & Radio
Law FirmKing, Stubb & Kasiva
AuthorMr Vatsal Gaur and Krishnan Sreekumar

Introduction:

The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting's recent invitation1 for comments on the Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023,2 reflects a proactive response to the transformative shifts in the broadcasting landscape. For the past three decades, the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995 has been the cornerstone of regulations governing content on linear broadcasting, mainly through cable networks. However, the dynamism of technological advancements has ushered in a new era, redefining how content is produced, distributed, and consumed.

The emergence of Direct-to-Home (DTH), Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), and Over-The-Top (OTT) services have not only expanded the reach of content but have also altered consumption patterns, allowing viewers greater flexibility in choosing when and how they engage with media. The digitisation of the broadcasting sector, particularly in cable TV, has prompted a critical reassessment of the regulatory framework governing this rapidly evolving industry. The draft Bill, therefore, seeks to replace the outdated Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995 and other existing policy guidelines, recognising the need for a more contemporary and consolidated framework.

About the bill:

The Draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023 is a significant legislative proposal comprising six chapters, 48 sections, and three schedules. The bill expands its regulatory purview to cover over-the-top (OTT) content and digital news, areas currently governed by the IT Act, 2000, and its regulations.

Acknowledging the dynamic nature of the broadcasting industry, the bill introduces comprehensive definitions for modern broadcasting terms and incorporates provisions that anticipate and accommodate emerging broadcasting technologies. The bill also places a strong emphasis on strengthening the self-regulation regime. Through the introduction of 'Content Evaluation Committees3 and transforming the existing Inter-Departmental Committee into a more participative 'Broadcast Advisory Council,'4 the legislation seeks to enhance industry self-regulation. This recognises the role of industry stakeholders in shaping and adhering to ethical broadcasting standards, fostering a more collaborative and inclusive regulatory environment.

Section 3 of the Bill elaborates on the Applicability of Chapter II5:

a) Part A shall apply to (i) broadcasters referred to in section 11, (ii) cable broadcasting networks, and...

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