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NBDA amends News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Regulations

The NBDA announced on June 28 that its Board had reviewed and amended the News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Regulations (Regulations) to align with the evolving media landscape.

The task was undertaken by Justice (Retd) A. K. Sikri, Chairperson, NBDSA, Justice (Retd) R. V Raveendran, former Chairperson, NBDSA and Arvind P. Datar, Senior Advocate.

With the inclusion of digital news media in its membership, the regulations have been amended to bring digital publishers under the purview of NBDSA.

Further, several new definitions have been added in the Regulations, which include:

Digital News Media, i.e., digitized news content that can be transmitted over the internet or computer networks and includes content received, stored, transmitted, edited or processed by a Digital Publisher;

Digital News Platforms , i.e., platforms which facilitate the transmission of digitized news content over the internet or computer networks, including social networking sites or social media;

OTT Platforms refer to platforms that facilitate the transmission of any program, feature, news item, news report or any other matter over the internet or computer networks on demand;

Digital Publisher includes a news portal, news aggregators, news agencies, and any other entity that is engaged in publishing news and current affairs content on Digital News Platforms, OTT Platforms, Social Networking Sites, and Social Media;

Penalties that may be imposed for violation of the code of conduct have been broadened to include graded penalties, which are as follows:

7. Powers of Authority
“Where, on receipt of a complaint made to it or otherwise, the Authority has reason to believe that a Broadcaster or Digital Publisher has violated the Code of Conduct, the Authority may, after giving the Broadcaster or Digital Publisher concerned, an opportunity of being heard, hold an inquiry in such manner as is provided by these Regulations and, if it is satisfied that it is necessary so to do, it may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, direct the following penalties to be imposed upon the Broadcaster or Digital Publisher :-

For the first violation issue/express –

  • warning, admonish, censure, disapproval, regret, apology and/or
  • impose a fine of upto Rs. 2 lacs

For the second violation issue/express –

  • warning, admonish, censure, disapproval, regret, apology, and/or
  • impose a fine of upto Rs. 5 lacs.

For the third violation issue/express –

  • warning, admonish, rebuke, disapproval, regret, apology, and/or
  • impose a fine of up to 1% of the total annual turnover of the channel.
    Such fine shall not exceed Rs.25 lakhs in any given matter.

In addition, on the third violation of the Code of Conduct, the Authority may direct a particular program to be suspended for up to one week and direct the broadcaster to suspend the anchor for up to one month and issue any other direction as the Authority deems appropriate to the Broadcaster.
or Digital Publisher and/or recommend to the concerned authority for suspension/revocation of license of such broadcaster;

Provided that the fine imposed by the Authority shall be recovered from the concerned Broadcaster or Digital Publisher;

Provided that if the Authority holds that the Broadcaster or Digital Publisher has violated the Code of Conduct, it will direct the Broadcaster/Digital Publisher to immediately remove or suitably edit the broadcast/publication from all Digital News Platforms, Social Media and Social Networking Sites.

SUO-MOTU PROCEEDINGS
The Authority has the power to initiate suo motu proceedings and issue notice or, as the case may be, take action in respect of any matter which falls within the mischief contemplated in these Regulations or relating to any matter falling within or arising from the Code of Conduct, and in such cases the Authority would be free to adopt its own procedure and such procedure need not be the same procedure as when the complaint is filed.

The Authority may exercise suo motu power in cases where public interest requires immediate remedial action to be taken, or in other cases where the Authority deems it fit to do so.

Where suo motu proceedings have been taken ex-parte, the Authority will issue notice to the concerned Broadcasters/Digital Publishers within three days giving an opportunity to explain why further action under the regulations should not be taken.

The Authority may exercise its powers suo motu even on a subject matter brought to its attention by a Complainant whose complaint has been dismissed due to delay in filing the Complaint.”

New provision added in the Regulations

Emergency powers
In the event of an emergency situation involving egregious, continuous, and/or repetitive violation(s) of the Code of Conduct in the telecast/publication by the member Broadcasters/Digital Publishers on a particular subject, the Authority shall also have suo motu emergency powers to issue interim directions to Broadcasters/Digital Publishers without following the procedures mentioned in the Regulations.

In such emergency situations, an urgent meeting of the Authority will be convened within 24 (twenty-four) hours of the Authority being notified of the violation of the Code of Conduct.

After the urgent meeting, the Authority can take action against any Broadcasters or digital Publishers, including a particular channel, Digital Platform, or OTT Platform, which would include directing them to remove the content immediately.

After passing any such interim directions, the aggrieved Broadcaster/Digital Publisher may immediately approach the Authority for redressal of its grievance. If a suitable explanation is given by the Broadcasters/Digital Publishers, the Authority can set aside the Interim Directions and direct the program/content to be restored.

Backgrounder
News Broadcasters & Digital Association (“NBDA”) is the collective voice of the news, current affairs, and digital broadcasters in India, whose membership includes leading news and current affairs broadcasters and digital news publishers who run news and current affairs channels and digital news platforms. Members of NBDA are some of the nation’s top-rated news channels, and they command more than 80 percent of news television viewership in India.

One of the significant achievements of NBDA is its independent self-regulatory body “News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority” (NBDSA), which was established nearly 15 years ago. NBDSA has emerged as a time-tested complaint redressal system and process for the viewers. Since its inception, NBDSA has been headed by eminent former judges of the Supreme Court of India, and by other renowned Independent Members, who have striven to improve broadcasting standards.

CT Bureau

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