August 2010
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Non - news channels to have fresh guidelines

A set of self-regulatory guidelines and complaint redressal mechanism has been developed by the television industry for non-news channels, following suggestions from the Information & Broadcasting Ministry for self regulation of content.

The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), which has formulated the guidelines, has urged the government to immediately notify them under the Cable Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, replacing the existing programme code.

The guidelines and redressal mechanism have come even as the I&B Ministry is working on a regulatory mechanism for channels, even while urging the industry to develop its own mode for self-regulation.

Under the guidelines, content will be classified according to various parameters of their impact on children.

The News Broadcasters’ Association (NBA), the body of leading news channels, had developed its self-regulation guidelines and grievance redressal mechanism sometime back.

IBF, while issuing the guidelines, has urged the Ministry to delink these from the proposed Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI).

IBF’s three-tier redressal mechanism, issued along with the guidelines, will enable viewers to lodge a complaint on any programme, initially at the channel level. If the viewer feels that his or her grievance has not been redressed, an appeal can be made with a seven-member Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC), followed by further appeal with a Content Appellate Board (CAB). While the BCCC will comprise IBF member representatives, the CAB will have three distinguished members in the form of jurists and retired Supreme Court or high court judges.

The IBF has, meanwhile, also registered the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), a nation-wide audience research mechanism that will replace the limited mechanism of assessing TRPs.

The BARC, a Rs 300 million joint venture between the IBF and the Indian Society of Advertisers on a 60:40 ratio, will provide ratings to channels that subscribe to it.

The BARC will formulate its methodologies by consulting all stakeholders so as to identify key concern areas regarding audience research, and will cover all modes of broadcasting, including terrestrial, cable and satellite, Direct to Home, analogue and digital platforms, as well as developing platforms like IPTV and mobile TV.

This will be a huge improvement on the existing audience research by TAM, which covers just a few thousand television homes in a few cities and towns, leaving out vast tracts of TV-watching regions of the country, IBF officials said.


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