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Broadcast Bill to be redrafted

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Amid stiff resistance from the media to the proposed Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi on Friday said it would be redrafted.

The government was willing to allow news broadcasters to draw up their own content code instead of its prescribing one for networks offering news and current affairs.

These assurances were given to broadcasters at a meeting the Minister convened here. Representatives of FM radio, the cable industry and consumer organisations also attended. While conceding ground to the broadcasters, Mr. Dasmunsi said that he wanted the television rating points system revamped as the current set-up was “bogus” and “fraudulent.” Not only was itssample size too limited but also several parts, particularly rural areas and even entire States such as Bihar were out of the system.

Given the divergent viewpoints on sting operations and fears that the content code would be used to prevent the media from using this as a journalistic tool, the discussion devoted considerable time to this trend.

Mr. Dasmunsi later told mediapersons, “When a sting operation serves a genuine public interest, it should not be discouraged. But, when it is only aimed at boosting TRPs, it should not be encouraged.”

As news broadcasters were opposed to the government prescribing a content code, it was agreed that the News Broadcasters Association would prepare a code for news and current affairs. However, the government would prescribe a content code for all other forms of programme. Consumer organisations were keen that the Bill and the content code be put in place at the earliest as they were of the view that already too much time was lost and the media were having a free run.

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