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Centre Amends Cable Television Network Rules, Provides Statutory ‘Grievance Redressal Mechanism’

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The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a notice on Thursday regarding the amendment of the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 in order to set up a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism for citizens relating to content broadcast by television channels in accordance with the provisions of the Cable Television Network Act, 1995.

While placing accountability and responsibility on the broadcasters and their self-regulating bodies, the ministry said over 900 television channels have been granted permission presently by the MIB, all of which are supposed to comply with the Programme and Advertising Code laid down under the Cable Television Network Rules.

The amendment has come into force with the Centre’s notification in the official Gazette Of India on Wednesday.

Currently, there is an institutional mechanism under the Inter-Ministerial Committee to address “grievances of citizens” relating to violation of the Programme/Advertising Codes.

The press statement from the ministry mentioned that while various broadcasters have developed their internal self-regulatory mechanism for addressing grievances, the central government felt the need “to lay down a statutory mechanism for strengthening the grievance redressal structure.”

While the Supreme Court had expressed satisfaction over the existing grievance redressal mechanism set up by the Centre, in its order passed in the matter of “Common Cause Vs Union of India & Others”, the apex court advised framing appropriate rules to formalise the complaint redressal mechanism as well.

According to the notification, the Cable Television Network Rules have been amended “to provide for this statutory mechanism, which would be transparent and benefit the citizens. At the same time, self-regulating bodies of broadcasters would be registered with the Central Government.”

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Similarities with the new IT Rules 2021

The grievance redressal mechanism amended in the Cable TV network rules is similar to that of the mechanism introduced in the new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) 2021 issued by the Centre in February.

The central government has introduced the Code of Ethics and a grievance redressal mechanism with three tiers: self-regulation by the publishers, self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the publishers, and oversight mechanism (the government shall coordinate and facilitate with the first and second tiers).

Digital news publishers, publishers of online curated content (OTT platforms) and association of digital media publishers have to set up self-regulatory bodies as per Level II of the three-tier grievance redressal mechanism under the new IT Rules that includes appointing a nodal contact person, a resident grievance officer and a chief compliance officer.

Soon after introducing the new IT Rules, the government had issued a statement mentioning that television and print media “have been following the laid down norms of the Cable Television Network Act and the Press Council Act for a very long time” and the same applies to the digital versions of publishing.

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