I&B Ministry invites comments for new Bill to cover OTT, digital news

New Delhi: The Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry Friday invited comments on a new draft Bill that consolidates the legal framework for the broadcasting sector and extends it to OTT content and digital news and current affairs as well. The ministry in a statement said comments have been invited for 30 days on the Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill 2023.
I&B Minister Anurag Thakur said the new Bill was in keeping with PM Narendra Modi’s vision for “ease of doing business” and “ease of living”. “This pivotal legislation modernizes our broadcasting sector’s regulatory framework, replacing outdated Acts, Rules, and Guidelines with a unified, future-focused approach. It adapts to the dynamic world of OTT, Digital Media, DTH, IPTV, and more, promoting technological advancement and service evolution.” he said on X.
Sources said it is unlikely that the Bill would be tabled in the Winter session of Parliament next month as another round of consultations will be held after receiving feedback from stakeholders. A preliminary round of intra-ministerial and inter-ministerial consultation has already been held, they add.
The Bill also seeks to replace the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995 that has been in effect for three decades. “The CTN Act serves as the primary legislation overseeing content on linear broadcasting, including cable networks. However, the broadcasting landscape has undergone significant changes. Technological advancements have introduced new platforms such as DTH, IPTV, OTT, and various integrated models… there is a growing need to streamline the regulatory framework,” the ministry said.
The draft Bill also expands the purview of the regulations to cover OTT content, digital news and has provisions to cover emerging technologies.
“It seeks to provide for Content Evaluation Committees and a Broadcast Advisory Council for self-regulation, different programmes and advertisement code for different broadcasting network operators, accessibility measures for persons with disabilities, and statutory penalties, etc,” the ministry said.
The Broadcast Advisory Council would have one “eminent independent person” with at least 25 years of experience in the media, entertainment, broadcasting or other relevant fields as its chairperson; five officers nominated by the Union government representing the ministries of I&B, Women and Child Development, Home Affairs, External Affairs and Social Justice & Empowerment as ex officio members, and five eminent independent members from the fields of media, entertainment, broadcasting, child rights, disability rights, human rights etc, the draft Bill says.
The Bill also introduces “Content Evaluation Committees” as a self-regulation mechanism. It also introduces statutory penalties like advisories, warnings, censures, monetary penalties for operators and broadcasters, and imprisonment for “very serious offences”, the ministry said. “Monetary penalties and fines are linked to the financial capacity of the entity, taking into account their investment and turnover to ensure fairness and equity,” it said.

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