In this blogpost, Mayuri Khandelwal, a student of IInd year, Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur, writes about the procedure which needs to be followed before filing a complaint against any content which has been broadcasted, and also mentions various forums under which such complaint can be filed.
Media owners aim to drive revenues through sensationalizing content to draw more and more viewers from the buying class of the society. They have self-regulation instead of state control. But a user should know that his powers are not restricted to switching over to another TV channel or tune into another radio station if you find content provoking or inappropriate to be shown on national television. You can legally file a complaint against that media content.
Grounds on which complaint can be filed
- To file a complaint, the user has to be sure that the content, against which the complaint is being filed, should fall under the following categories of violations:
- Child Abuse: This includes child maltreatment like physical, mental, sexual or emotional abuse of children. Child marriages are also covered under this head.
- Violence against Women: This category deals with offences which are gender specific.
- If the user finds anything which contains anything obscene or nudity or sexual conduct which is not appropriate for children.
- Broadcasting anything which creates superstition in the minds of the viewers.
- Any content which creates a communal disturbance or promotes violence, it can be in the form of any speech, statement or any video. Also, the content which is against the law and order the country.
- Excessive usage of drugs, alcohol and solvent abuse.
- Coarse and offensive language or the content which contains explicit scenes of violence.
- Content which contains criticism of friendly countries.
- Criticizing any particular religion or a particular caste or tribe in the country.
However, it is to be noted that this list is not exhaustive.
- Then the user needs to record that piece of content which according to him is objectionable; this can be done either electronically or by making notes.
- Another important thing to be kept in mind is that the user must always note the name of the show in which such objectionable content is being shown with the name of the channel and the date and time of the broadcast.
Time period for filing the complaint
A complaint should be made to the broadcaster, within 7 days from the date of the first broadcast of that particular episode or news or the show, which is broadcasting such content, and the time period shouldn’t exceed more than that.
Procedure for filing the complaint
- Immediately record the biased segment or message. Note the basic 5W’s: who, where, what, when, why and how. Then write down clear details, also try to describe in detail what was said or shown and in what context. Make sure to write down the correct name of the show, the channel responsible for the segment, along with the exact date and time.
- Mention the objection first then use a constructive approach for more strategic reasons. A polite and moderate tone projects an image of reason, firmness and seriousness. Try to avoid being emotional and using the words which suggest insults, threats or overreaction. Remember that your main goal is to get a public apology, and prevent further bias and mobilize public support for your viewpoint. Using antagonistic and negative approach often makes people more defensive, and this stops them to take any suggestions or demands for change.
- Always communicate directly to authority- For practical purposes, you may find it more persuasive and effective to send your complaint to EMCC and also to the concerned channel. And it’s very important that you always keep a copy of your complaint for future references and records.
Various laws applicable on the operation of cable television
In the year 1995, in the famous “Airwaves” case wherein the Hon’ble Supreme Court said that “the broadcasting media should be under the control of the public and distinct from the Government”. But there are certain acts for the regulation of media.
The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995- This act aims to provide a basic framework to regulate the operations of cable television broadcast across the Indian Territory. According to this Act, channels on TV and radio are bound to adhere to advertising and programme codes prescribed by the Law. And the non-adherence to the standard codes can lead to legal proceedings under the Criminal Procedure Code.
This Act was further amended in the year 2000, and 2002, to include new developments in broadcast media, such as Direct-To-Home services. Apart from this, The Cinematographic Act, 1952, also gives powers to government nodal agencies to regulate content in films and video productions.
Emcc – ELECTRONIC MEDIA MONITORING CENTER
EMMC has the authority to monitor broadcasters and cable operators with reference to the quality of the content they are broadcasting. If something is of mediocre quality and has content that many may find violating the ethics of society, or any guidelines and any Law of the Government of India, then viewers can file a complaint.
Bccc – broadcasting content complaints council
Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) is the self-regulatory body for non-news, general entertainment channels (GECs) set up by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) in consultation with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB). BCCC has so far, issued ten advisories relating to the necessary restraint on the content of television shows. The advisories issued by the committee headed by Justice AP Shah are Portrayal of women, Treatment and Sexualisation of children along with their health and safety, Telecast of award functions, Treatment of animals/wildlife, TV comedy shows, Telecast of content on children’s or cartoon channels, Telecast of content sensitive to minorities and Showing acid attacks on TV.
News Broadcaster Association (NBA)
This is another agency which seeks consumer complaints against unlawful reporting. It is an industry consortium for news broadcast channels and aims to promote self-regulation in news reporting. It mainly deals with the news channels.
Zee Corp. has taken an initiative under which any complaint relating to the content of TV channels of Zee Media Corporation Ltd can be registered under the Code of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards and News Broadcasting Standards (Disputes Redressal) Regulations of News Broadcasters Association (NBA) to the person appointed by the Company.
There are some complaints registered against TV shows like:-
- Jodha Akbar telecasted by Zee TV;
- Nach Baliye 7 telecasted by Star Plus
- Balika Vadhu telecasted by Colors TV.
In April last year, the Council had even issued an advisory to all channels asking them to ‘refrain from airing any content that may amount to misuse or wrong depiction of the national flag, national emblem, national anthem and map of India’. The body has sent the advisory to all the channels and reiterated the points stated in the document.
Guidelines one can refer to while filing a complaint against a TV show or NEWS channel
- Self- Regulatory Content Guidelines for non-news and current affairs television channels. The guideline can be accessed at http://www.ibfindia.com/sites/default/files/pdf/Self%20Regulatory%20Guidelines%20for%20non-news%20%26%20current%20affairs%20programmes.pdf
- A Guide to the Complaints Process of the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBA).The guidelines can be accessed at http://nbanewdelhi.com/pdf/final/NBA_Viewers-and-Complaints_Guide_English.pdf
- Guidelines to shield children on television
Though it is the responsibility of the Government to regulate the electronic media but ultimately viewers play a very significant role in regulating the media and this can be done by raising their voices which will ultimately benefit the society and secure our values and ethics.