All private television channels will have to broadcast public service content that is of national interest for 30 minutes a day from March 1. This is according to an advisory issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcast on Monday.
According to the advisory, the ministry decided on the procedure of public service broadcasting by private satellite TV channels after consultations with them and their associations. This comes after the ministry's November guidelines on uplinking and downlinking said private channels will be required to broadcast content of national interest.
Under these new guidelines, the Centre may also now issue directions to the channels from time to time on content of national interest, and the channel will have to comply.
What are the new public service broadcast rules that private channels will have to adhere to? Let's take a look.
What are the themes?
The Centre said in the advisory that the public service content will have to have a theme of "national importance and of social relevance". The advisory provides a list of topics as suggestions but said that it was only indicative and could "be expanded to include similar subjects of national importance and social relevance such as water conservation, disaster management".
The themes include:
— education and spread of literacy
— agriculture and rural development
— health and family welfare
— science and technology
— welfare of women
— welfare of the weaker sections of the society
— protection of environment and of cultural heritage
— national integration
Television channels can share and rebroadcast the same content and even "relevant content embedded in the programmes" will account for public service broadcasting.
The government has also said that a common "e-platform" as a repository of such content can be created, from which TV channels can use and access this content.
How will the ministry monitor such content?
The advisory says that the content has to be broadcast for a total of 15 hours each month and 30 minutes a day, but does not have to be broadcast for 30 minutes at a stretch. "The time for transmission of the relevant content shall be flexible except that any content transmitted from Midnight to 6:00 AM shall not be accounted for under Public Service Broadcasting," the advisory said.
All private broadcasters will have to submit a monthly report before the 7th day of every month, along with the 'Monthly report on the Public Service Broadcasting (PSB)' form that was provided with the advisory, on the Broadcast Seva Portal. The channels also need to include a compliance certificate in their annual reports.
The form required the channels to tell the government the date, time and duration of the content broadcast, the theme of the content and the name of the programme under which it was broadcast. The channels will have to specify the total duration for which such content of national interest was broadcast along with links to clippings of the content.
Channels that predominantly broadcast sports, devotional, spiritual and yoga content are exempt from submitting monthly reports. "Foreign channels, downlinking in India (in languages other than those specified in the Eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution), shall be exempt from the obligation of Public service Broadcasting," the advisory said.
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