NBA Reaction to Govt-s bid to Regulate Media

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NBA Reaction to Govt-s bid to Regulate Media
24 Aug 2021
4 min read

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News Broadcasting Association established in India was an attempt to regulate news in the country. This blog provides detailed information on how this association was formed, its features, and characterization. #ThinkWithNiche

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In July 2007, the UPA Govt decided to introduce a Broadcast bill, a regulatory body appointed by a committee comprising Chairman of the LS and RS and Leader of the Opposition.

Features  

The draft bill, which called for the setting up of a separate Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) that would oversee and regulate all aspects of the media business:

  • Content
  • Cross-media ownership
  • Subscriptions, and
  • Live sports feeds.

Along with the draft broadcasting Bill, the Ministry has also formulated a content code to regulate the program "quality" being aired by broadcasters and to "protect the consumer's interests", national interests, and right to privacy.

The News Broadcasters Association

  1. The News Broadcasting Authority (NBA) was born in such a context. It was set up in July 2007 right in the middle of the entire debate. Its first press release clearly stated that "it has already been engaging with the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the draft Broadcasting Regulatory Authority of India Bill and proposed Content Code."

The NBA Mission  

To serve as the eyes and ears of the private news & current affairs broadcasters, to lobby on its behalf, and to act as a central point of joint action on matters of interest.

Objectives  

Of the 7 objectives listed on its website not one talks of self-regulating TV media content.

Two provisions are, however, important!

  1. To promote, aid, help, encourage, develop, protect and secure the interests of the News Broadcasters in the Indian television industry and other related entities.
  2. To protect all its members from persons or entities who carry on unfair and/or unethical practices or who discredit the television industry.
  3. There is just one line ‘Self-regulation by broadcasters’ that crops up whenever one opens the website;

Code Of Ethics  

The text of the code comprises roughly three parts- Background, Fundamental principles, and principles of self-regulation. The background is roughly the preamble- the spirit of the COE. It speaks about the principles of free speech under the constitution.

Secondly accountability of institutions. The promise of electronic media has the potential to make democracy a lived experience. ‘Thirdly ensure pluralism of the country. Fourthly a media that hopes to expose ‘lapses’ in the govt cannot be regulated by the govt. Therefore, there was the need to have institutional checks and safeguards in place.

Looking at other experiences we should also have a ‘jury of its peers.

Fundamental principles

  1. Journalists are trustees of the public.
  2. The COE is the ‘broad paradigms’’ accepted by members of the NBA that will ensure the highest standards of ‘public service and integrity.
  3. News shall not be designed to promote a particular view or issue. Controversial subjects should be ‘fairly presented’.’

The News Broadcasters Standards Authority (NBSA)

  • The News Broadcasting Standards Authority is an independent body set up in August 2008 by the News Broadcasters Association. Its primary task was to ensure the implementation of the Code of Ethics laid down by the NBA.
  • Towards this end, its task is to consider and adjudicate upon complaints about broadcasts.

Composition  

  1. A Chairperson, being an eminent jurist.
  2. Four eminent persons having special knowledge and/or practical experience in the field of law, education, medicine, science, literature, public administration, consumer affairs, environment, human psychology, and/or culture; and
  3. Four eminent editors employed with a broadcaster.