Media watchdog keeps an eye on television content

Electronic media monitoring centre checks broadcast media for objectionable content


Deevakar Anand | December 6, 2010

The next time you are disgusted by offensive content on television, take heart. The government is watching it too, to help it filter broadcast media content. The information and broadcasting ministry's watchdog, the electronic media monitoring centre (EMMC) keeps tabs on such indiscretions of broadcasters.

While there exist regulatory bodies such as the advertising standards council of India (ASCI), the news broadcasters association (NBA) and the Indian broadcasting foundation (IBF), many are oblivious of this monitoring centre of the I&B which has been keeping an eye on the conduct of the electronic media. And that too round the clock for over two years now.

Barkha Dutt’s and Vir Sanghiv's purported collusion in their individual capacities with Niira Radia apart, there have been occasions and of late, such occasions have substantially risen, when the country has felt the need of a more mature and constrained media as a whole entity.

With such display of media misbehavior – the objectionable content- as seen recently in “Big Boss” and “Rakhi ka Insaf” which made the (I&B) ask these shows to be pushed beyond the prime time, there surely was always a need for a mechanism to look into it.

And it is entirely for this purpose, that the I&B has set up EMMC to watch over various TV channels beaming programmes for any violation of programme code, advertisement code, various provisions of cable television networks regulation act, 1995 and any other law relevant to the content of satellite TV channel.

These content codes laid down in the act helps identify violations and check that a responsible treatment of sensitive subjects such as crime and violence, sex, obscenity and nudity, horror and occult, drugs, smoking, tobacco, solvents and alcohol, religion and community is ensured by the content providers or broadcasters.

In addition, the centre uses the setup to understand the public feedback on issues concerning national and international importance, based on which, the government makes decisions in public interest.

Also, the EMMC caters to the requirement of the ministry of home by providing it real time information on media reports related to disasters and emergency situations. On being prompted by the specially designated monitors called the duty officers, the home ministry sends out necessary suggestions and orders to the National Disaster Management Authority, their state wings and the National Contingency Management Centre to carry out the rescue and relief operations.

The news of a mid night major train mishap reaches us next morning when we wake up but a monitor at the EMMC would report it to his bosses and the concerned men as soon as he sees even a single flash on his 16 channel split screen so that necessary measures could be taken.

Also, now you know why ‘Sach ka Saamna’ on Star Plus was pushed beyond the prime-time slot after airing of its few episodes generated controversy on its allegedly adult content and why the FTv was banned for a few days last year . The news channels too fall into the purview and are regularly pulled up for misleading reportage.

The present setup is equipped with the facility for accessing, monitoring and recording of 150 satellite TV channels with capacity augmentation provision up to 300 channels. Moreover, the monitoring of FM channels is soon to be taken up by the EMMC.

There could not be any belittling of the role of media championing the cause of free and egalitarian consciousness necessary for a progressive change. Through active participation in the process of dissemination of information, it helps learn and discern new ideas regarding society, politics and economy. But a responsible media is what we desire and require. And the EMMC is helping us get there.





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