All-party meet likely on cable TV content: Soni

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New Delhi: Government today said it was open to the idea of holding an all-party meeting on the issue of regulating contents on cable TV but maintained that a `fatwa` or a direction will not help serve the purpose.

A draft Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill has been put on the website and a final bill could be brought for consideration of Parliament after the stipulated time provided to get feedback from various stakeholders is over, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha.

She said an ordinance can be promulgated if the House does not want to evolve a consensus or take into consideration the views of those who would be affected.

Soni said it was important to get the views of those who would be affected by the bill as "media is a sensitive matter, no matter what we say."

She said without discussion, any "fatwa based on law" or direction on the subject will not help.

The minister said a Group of Ministers on media has been set up and some of her cabinet colleagues have started an open debate on the issue.

"We are getting views. After collating the views, we want to bring a law which is beyond the self-regulatory body that has been set up…I have no objections if a law is made after an all-party meeting is convened by the Prime Minister in which views of everyone are taken in writing," she said.

Soni said as a mother and a grandmother, she was herself "worried" at the contents being shown on TV channels.

The minister said a two-tier self-regulatory system is in place to monitor the contents on TV channels. Under the first tier, the channels themselves check the output, while tier two consists of a regulatory mechanism comprising a 13-member body.

She said 300 complaints have been received by the body since June last year and their replies have been sent.

Monetary fine was imposed on one channel, she said.

As per the eligibility criteria envisaged in the Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of TV channels, only companies registered under the Company`s Act are eligible for grant of permission and state governments.

As such, they are not eligible to seek such permission, Soni added.

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