Broadcasting Regulations in India And How They Are Different From UK?
Authored by - Hemant Kumar
Keywords - Broadcasting, Digital India, Telecom Authority
This article deals with the broadcasting norms of India and the United Kingdom. Both of them have different cultures but there are extensive similarities considering that the laws of broadcasting were made during the British rule in India. Through this article, one can learn about the intricacies of broadcasting in India and the United Kingdom. A brief comparison between the two countries has also been discussed below.
Digital is the new world and broadcasting is the first step in being digital. It helps to provide information to the masses. It is one of the biggest platforms that can help spread knowledge but the wrong use of it can also mislead the masses. As a result, regulations and guidelines for restrictions on technology plays a significant role. In countries like India and the United Kingdom (UK), people have the right to free speech and expression but media and broadcasting laws are quite different in both the countries.
India is a democracy with a diverse culture, so, what suits the UK may not be suitable for the Indian Government. India has adopted the norms and laws which are beneficial for its citizens. Every citizen has the right to broadcast his views, writings, pictures, movies on blogs, websites, newspapers, television, radio, etc. Regulations and guidelines are established to prohibit the absurdity and obscenity of various broadcasting platforms.
All the legislative and executive powers to broadcast rely on the Union Government. These regulations are dealt within the Indian Telegraphic Act, 1885 which gives the power to operate, maintain, license, and oversight of all wired and wireless communication. It is not bound to telegraph but all communication devices instead.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, 1997
The main purpose of these two legislations established under the TRAI Act is to regulate telecommunication services, adjudicate disputes, dispose of appeals and protect the interest of the service providers as well as the consumers. The Act also aims at promoting and ensuring orderly growth of the telecom sector.
Recently TRAI made new rules where users were allowed to select the channels which they want to see and no other channel will be shown to them which are not included in your channel packs.
Prasar Bharti Act, 1990
Section 12: Function and powers of the corporation.
1. It states that the primary objective is to educate, inform and entertain people with and to ensure the development of broadcasting on television and radio.
2. Important objectives of the corporation:
(a) upholding the unity and integrity of the country and the values enshrined in the Constitution;
(b) safeguarding the citizen’s right to be informed freely, truthfully and objectively on all matters of public interest, national or international, and presenting a fair and balanced flow of information including contrasting views without advocating any opinion or ideology of its own;
Broadcasting and Telecommunication in United Kingdom
Ofcom is the regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. It regulates the TV, radio sectors, fixed line telecoms, mobiles, postal services, plus the airwaves over which these wireless devices operate.
In UK, the term Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) means that broadcasting is for the public and not for commercial gains. PSB has a long and proud tradition in the UK delivering impartial and truthful news to its consumers.
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
It is the first PSB in the UK and also the world’s oldest national broadcaster. Its primary mission was to educate, inform and entertain the people of the state. It provides high quality news, current affairs and factual programming to engage the people. It promotes different cultures within the country.
In the UK there are various codes of conduct to be followed by the broadcasters. They provide mere suggestive guidelines and not rules as they can be complex in nature sometimes. The print media is self-regulating and free from the statutory rules. Private media is regulated by the Independent telecom communication (ITC) whereas public media is regulated by the BBC.
How India and UK are different from each other on the Broadcasting norms?
In India, all the broadcasting is dealt with by the Union of India whereas in the UK there are both private and public regulation bodies. There is no self-regulatory process in India but in UK the print media is self-regulatory. Also, the broadcasters in UK have more freedom as it is free from Government control. In India, most of the news is politically influenced where one channel supports one political party and other favours a different one. These are done to influence the people of the country for vote bank politics. During the elections,the media broadcasts eminent politicians and their agenda. Their inherent focus is on campaigning and pointing out flaws in manifestos of the other parties. Any other kind of news is rarely broadcasted. As a result, pre-election campaigns are organized by different channels, which help political parties to win elections. The media often to portray the flaws of the politics which tends to mislead the masses by influencing their mind at the time of polling. There is no code of conduct in India as that in the UK. In the UK there is an impartial media with no restrictions from the Government. Thus, they do not try to influence the people in any way whatsoever.
Broadcasting is a major tool that is important to educate and inform the masses about the current state of our surroundings. The pictorial and video graphic content are easily gathered by the human mind and have great influence. It is important that media broadcasts its content wisely in an unbiased manner.Impartiality is a must for the broadcasting agencies these can be decreased by giving more powers to the channels. However, this is rarely the case. Social rights activists should be free to express their views under Article 19 of the Constitution and they should not be held accountable for free speech. People should be shown the truth and the rules must be modified to give freedom to the broadcasters.