Supreme Court has advised TV news channels to discipline. The court has said that TV news channels should bring better discipline within themselves. The Supreme Court has asked TV channels to implement strong self-regulation to ensure discipline among themselves.
The court has asked the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and the News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) to suggest ways to strengthen the mechanism to deal with errant channels.
A report in Hindustan Times states that the court has given four weeks time to the NBA and NBF to submit their guidelines. After this period the case will be heard again. The Supreme Court on Monday said there should be better discipline among TV news channels under a strict self-regulatory mechanism, while also protecting their right to freedom of speech and expression.
A division bench headed by CJI Dhananjay Y Chandrachud said the first level of regulation is self-regulation by broadcasters. We want to strengthen the first layer itself which protects their rights under Article 19(1)(A) of the Constitution. Freedom of speech and right to expression brings discipline. The division bench also included Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Mishra.
The Supreme Court on Monday passed this order on a petition filed by the NBA, now called the News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA). This petition has been filed to appeal against the decision of Bombay High Court dated January 18, 2021. In that decision, the High Court had refused to give legal recognition to the self-regulatory mechanism adopted by TV news channel associations to regulate themselves.
NBA asked for four weeks’ time
The report said that on Monday, as the matter came up for hearing, senior lawyer Arvind Datar, representing the NBA, informed the court that he needed four weeks’ time to suggest revised guidelines. Rival union NBF told the court that NBA has no legal standing in the matter as they are not registered with the government. We cannot be bound by any guidelines brought by them. Half the news broadcasters are with us. Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for NBF, said how can they seek regulation when they are not registered?
Self-regulatory guidelines should be tightened
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the central government, filed his response to the petition last week stating that under the Cable Television Networks (CTN) Amendment Rules introduced in 2021, broadcasters will be required to pay Rs. All self-regulatory bodies must be registered with the government.
Tushar Mehta said the NBSA has refused to register, while the NBF’s self-regulatory body, called the Professional News Broadcasters Standards Authority (PNBSA), is registered and the sole statutorily recognized body for TV news channels. Is a self-regulatory body.
The Division Bench refused to enter into the debate as to which of the two rivals was recognized. He said that we want that the self-regulatory guidelines should be tightened. We do not want this issue to be lost in the noise of rival ideologies.
Mahesh Jethmalani informed the Supreme Court that the NBF is making rules and is in talks with former Supreme Court judge AM Khanwilkar in this regard.
Arvind Datar told the court that at least 40 news broadcasters are required to register under the 2021 CTN rules. He said that to complete this number, NBF has included cable operators. It has also claimed to have former CJI JS Khehar to head its self-regulatory body, but Justice Khehar says he has nothing to do with them.
Center said, there is no legal void in regulating
Taking part in the debate, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, citing an affidavit filed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said that at present there is no legal void on regulating news channels and there is a three-tier mechanism, Hindustan Times reported. At the first level, there is self-regulation by broadcasters, followed by self-regulation by authorities created by news broadcasters, and finally, oversight by the Center which is an inter-ministerial body to handle complaints against TV channels. Talks about committee.
He informed that 394 TV news channels are registered or licensed under the guidelines of the uplinking and downlinking policy of the ministry. The NBA or NBDA has 71 out of 394 news channels as members, while the NBF counts 46 broadcasters as members.
The Central Government told the court that the NBA and the NBDA were trying to create “monopolistic” rights in the area of grievance redressal mechanisms of news broadcasters, independent of government or statutory control. In such a situation, the Center was not ready to accept it.