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'Ineffective Self-Regulation': Supreme Court Calls For Stringent Rules For TV Channels

Swarajya News Staff

Aug 14, 2023, 05:04 PM | Updated 05:04 PM IST

Indian media, image for representation only
Indian media, image for representation only

The Supreme Court has deemed self-regulation of television channels as "ineffective" and has announced its intention to issue guidelines to enhance regulation in this area.

According to Bar and Bench, Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, along with Justices P S Narasimha and Manoj Misra, expressed the need for stricter rules to ensure compliance by television channels.

Without stringent regulations, there is no obligation for channels to adhere to them, the bench said.

It has also requested suggestions regarding the current penalty of Rs 1 lakh imposed on news channels for violating the guidelines set by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA).

"You say TV channels practice self restraint. I don’t know how many in court would agree with you. Everybody went berserk whether it was a murder etc. You preempt the investigation. What is the fine you impose? ₹1 lakh! How much does a channel earn in one day. Unless you make the rules stringent no TV channel has no compulsion to comply. For any violation if there is a lakh penalty then what stops them?" Chief Justice Chandrachud said.

"This Court has to consider whether steps taken to frame self regulatory mechanism needs to be strengthened with regard to framework,” the bench said in its order, as reported by Bar and Bench.

The NBA had filed an appeal with the top court against a verdict from the Bombay High Court.

The High Court's verdict had made critical observations about the ineffectiveness of self-regulation in TV channels. The Supreme Court was hearing this appeal.

The bench reportedly stated that it would make adjustments to the Bombay High Court judgment, but would also strengthen the regulations.

The apex court emphasised the need for effective regulation, even as Senior Counsel Arvind Datar, representing the NBA, which is advocating for self-regulation of TV channels, argued against control.

“While we appreciate there has to be self regulation but the self regulation has to be effective. Having a former Supreme Court judge is not enough. They are also bound by the regulations. How do you give bite to your regulations to make it more effective? The penalty should be a dislodgement fee sorts,” the bench reportedly said.

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