Today's Editorial

Today's Editorial - 27 February 2023

National interest content

Source: By Divya A: The Indian Express

From 1 March 2023, all private television channels in the country will be required to air ‘national interest content’ on a daily basis, as per an advisory by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on 30 January 2023. What exactly are the channels supposed to do to fulfil this obligation, and how does it change what we see on television?

What is the new obligation?

The new policy guidelines for uplinking and downlinking of television channels include a requirement for private broadcasters to undertake public service broadcasting for 30 minutes every day, based on certain themes given by the I&B ministry.

With the advisory issued on 30 January 2023, the ministry has clarified that the national interest content can be embedded in the programmes being telecast, and that the content need not be of 30 minutes at a stretch. The public service broadcast can be split over smaller time slots, but can’t be done from midnight to 6 am, the ministry said.

Many formalities for broadcasters

The broadcasters are now required to keep a record of the content telecast for a period of 90 days. The Electronic Media Monitoring Centre, under I&B Ministry, shall keep the record. The government also requires the broadcasters to submit a monthly report online on the Broadcast Seva Portal.

The content can be shared between the broadcasters and a repeat telecast on one or several channels is also allowed now. In fact, a digital repository of relevant videos or textual content for the purpose may be developed, the advisory said, which may be accessed and used by TV channels.

What are the themes?

The ministry mentioned eight themes in the uplinking/downlinking policy document — education and literacyagriculture and rural developmenthealth and family welfarescience and technologywelfare of womenwelfare of the weaker sections of the society; protection of environment and of cultural heritage; and national integration. The scope of prescribed themes has been expanded.

“The list of themes of national importance and of social relevance given under clause 35 of the Policy Guidelines are indicative and may be expanded to include similar subjects of national importance and social relevance such as water conservationdisaster management, etc,” the advisory said.

Where it doesn’t apply

The condition applies to all channels, except those mentioned specifically as exempt, where this may not be feasible. These include wildlife channels and foreign channels, besides live telecast in case of sports channels. Channels broadcasting more than 12 hours of devotional/spiritual/yoga content are exempt from furnishing monthly reports.


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