Rohit Bansal | January 9, 2014
On July 21 last year, The Times of India wrote that entertainment channels can be fined up to Rs 30 lakh for violations of the programming code.
"This move was formalised in a meeting of the IBF (Indian Broadcasting Foundation) board held on July 19. Any channel found violating the advisories or guidelines or repeatedly flouting the programme code can be fined to the tune of Rs 30 lakh by the council. This move will be implemented soon," justice AP Shah, chairman of BCCC, the entertainment television sector’s self-regulation body, told the newspaper.
(Read the story here)
Just a few days later, as co-host of a media round table organised by Observer Research Foundation, I had occasion to raise the matter with justice RV Raveendran, who is justice Shah’s counterpart in the news television sector.
He was still settling down in the assignment, coming as it did after the sudden demise of justice JS Verma, but he left me with an impression that he saw merit in aligning penalties that news broadcasters under his writ need to pay as financial penalty.
(Penalty for news broadcasters has remained pegged at Rs 1 lakh since the inception of their association, the News Broadcasters Association, and the rules the NBA created for the News Broadcasting Standards Authority way back in 2008.)
On the sidelines of the aforementioned round table, I also noticed justice Shah and justice Raveendran discussing this.
But as things stand 5 months later, NBSA continues to peg the maximum penalty at Rs 1 lakh. That’s what it has charged three of its member news channels, Aaj Tak, CNN IBN and Sakshi TV, for violating broadcasting guidelines.
CNN-IBN, has been found guilty in two cases. The first is by Mallige Medical Centre administrator R K Lal about a show titled ‘Bangalore woman incapacitated after botched surgery’ where the channel was found violating the general guidelines and showcasing a one sided story without contacting the hospital authorities. Here the NBSA has asked the channel to tender an apology by airing it once on January stating “CNN-IBN regrets and apologises for airing the programme titled ‘Bangalore woman incapacitated after botched surgery’ without ascertaining the version of Mallige Medical Centre on 29 to 30 March 2013 and 1 April, 6 April and 7 April 2013.”
In the second case, CNN-IBN has been found guilty of revealing the identity of the father of a rape victim during the protests at India Gate on December 23. The channel has denied violating provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act in its act of revealing the father’s name but NBSA has asked it to remove the video from the website by citing it as a violation of media ethics.
In another indictment, Aaj Tak has been found guilty of breaching ethical conducts in two cases. A complaint lodged by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) general manager Pradip Kundu claims that sting operation ‘Dalal Junction’ was aired without verifying the facts with IRCTC. Here the NBSA has ordered the channel to tender an apology for five consecutive days from 13 January to 17 January at 6:00 pm by running an apology scroll on full screen in large font size with a voice over in slow speed.
The second complaint is on a show titled ‘Vardat’ which according to the petitioner was aired with incomplete information. The NBSA has asked the channel to run the unedited version of the complainant for three minutes followed by an apology similar to the above case. A penalty of Rs 1 lakh has been levied on the channel for wishful violation of conducts in family/matrimonial issues.
As for Sakshi TV, the case against the news channel was filed by four students of NALSAR on a show titled, ‘Drunken girl’s hulchul midnight’. The petitioners successfully argued that Sakshi TV portrayed them in a derogatory manner and its act of pushing the camera in their car for capturing the visuals violated media ethics. NBSA has slapped a penalty of Rs 1 lakh and instructed that an apology be run on 15, 16 and 17 January, 2014 in both English and Telugu.
(The commentator once served on the NBA Board. Tweets @therohitbansal)
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