In light of the judgement of the Supreme Court of India in Government of India & Ors v/s Cricket Association of Bengal & Ors directing that airwaves or frequencies are public property and have to be controlled and regulated by a public authority in the promotion of the general interest of the public, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting ("MIB") had been contemplating the enactment of a legislation for regulating the operation of broadcasting services in India.
Accordingly, MIB has proposed a draft of the legislation – the Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill (the "Bill") in order to achieve the following basic objectives:
To promote, facilitate and develop in an orderly manner the carriage and content of broadcasting.
Broadcasting has been classified as including not merely traditional broadcasting but also internet broadcasting and mobile broadcasting.
To make provisions for regulation of broadcasting services in India in a fair, objective and competitive manner.
The Central Government shall be authorized to prescribe eligibility conditions and restrictions with regard to accumulation of interest in the print and broadcast segments of the media to prevent monopolies across different segments of the media including the broadcast segment, to ensure diversity of news and views.
To provide for the establishment of an independent authority - the Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India ("BRAI") for the purpose of regulating and facilitating development of broadcasting services in India.
At present, MIB undertakes regulatory functions in respect of broadcasters pursuant to various guidelines issued from time to time. In order to effectively function in a coordinated manner it is now proposed to specify respective powers and functions of the Central Government, BRAI, the licensing authorities and the authorized officers, thus compartmentalizing the roles and responsibilities of each.
The Bill is aimed at providing legislative sanction retroactively to guidelines issued by the Central Government on various regulatory aspects including but not limited to uplinking and downlinking of television channels, private FM Radio and Community Radio and Direct – To – Home services.
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