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This article is penned by Sarthak Gupta, a law student, Institute of Law, Nirma University. This article is a legislative analysis of the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act of 1995. Analysis of the relevancy of the legislation and the amendments.

Introduction

In the digital era, Cable Television is the discussion of the everyday. In every single corner of the nation, individuals use it and communicate with it. Urbanites have the benefit to appreciate the digital TV has spread its wings with the outcomes that there has been a heedless mushrooming of satellite telecom companies everywhere throughout the nation because of accessibility of signs of outside TV stations by means of satellites. The projects being anticipated on the satellite stations were overwhelmingly western. They were strange to our way of life and lifestyle in the beginning. On these digital telecom companies, part of bothersome projects and commercials are additionally being screened with no dread of being checked. To check this propensity, it has been viewed as important to control the activity of satellite TV stations in the nation to achieve consistency in their operation. The legislation for Cable Television Networks was introduced.

Need for the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995

On 29th September 1994 an Ordinance titled the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Ordinance, 1994 was proclaimed by the President to accommodate the guidelines regarding the activity of digital TV stations in the nation. The Ordinance was re-proclaimed by the President on seventeenth January 1995. To supplant the said Ordinance a Bill was presented in the Parliament which was passed by both of the houses. The broadcasting was strictly under the jurisdiction of the State until the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 was introduced in India. In the early 1990s, the Indian government was caught unprepared for cable networks and satellite broadcasting. It was not possible for the Government to monitor the transmission and diffusion of TV through international satellites.

The Rajasthan High Court mentioned in the case of Shiv Cable TV System v. the State of Rajasthan (1993), the need to grant licenses for cable networks. In this case, cable networks were prohibited as operated by the District Judge. The District Judge’s order was subsequently appealed to the High Court of Rajasthan on the ground that this order violated the fundamental right to trade and freedom of practice. The Court found that the rights to free trade were not violated because cables fit into the definition under the legislation, Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, and therefore a license for the operation of such networks is subsequently needed. The Court also held that cable networks were not infringed. The necessity to have a framework for cable network regulation in India was highlighted, which led to the adoption of the Cable Television Networks Act 1995.

The objective of the Act

The object of the Act was to manage the ‘aimless mushrooming of satellite broadcasting companies’. Because of the absence of authorizing system for link administrators; this brought about a huge number of link administrators, broadcasting programs with no guidelines. The Act planned for controlling substance and activity of link systems. This was because of the accessibility of signs from outside broadcasting companies by means of satellite correspondence. The entrance to remote telecom companies was viewed as a “social attack” as these stations depicted western culture. It additionally needed to set out the “duties and commitments in regard of the nature of administration both in fact too content insightful, utilization of materials ensured under the copyright law, presentation of uncertified movies, and insurance of supporters from hostile to national communicates from sources antagonistic to national interests”.

It is additionally felt that the supporters of these satellite TV stations, the software engineers and the link administrators themselves don’t know about their privileges, duties, and commitments in regard of the nature of administration, specialized just as substance shrewd, utilization of material secured by copyright, display of uncertified movies, assurance of endorsers from hostile to national communicates from sources unfriendly to our national intrigue, responsiveness to the veritable complaints of the supporters and saw readiness to work inside the expansive system of the laws of the land for consideration like the Cinematograph Act, 1952, the Copyright Act, 1957, Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition)Act, 1986. It is, consequently, viewed as important to direct the activity of digital broadcasting companies in the whole nation to achieve consistency in their activity. It will, therefore, empower the ideal abuse of this innovation which has the capability of making accessible to the endorsers a huge pool of data and amusement.

Regulation of Cable Television Network

The guidelines under cable television network of the Act are guaranteed through a two-stage process. So as to monitor link administrators, it has ordered a necessary enlistment for link administrators. It likewise sets down arrangements to manage substance to be communicated by the link administrator.

Enlistment of Cable Operators

So as to manage digital telecom companies, it was made obligatory for satellite TV station administrators to be registered, as mentioned in Section 4 of the act. The procedure for enlistment is set down in Section 5 of the Act. Any individual who is working or wants to work with a link system may apply for enrollment to the enlisting authority.

An application for enrollment of link administrator must be made under Form 1 alongside the installment of charges of Rs.50 to the head post ace inside whose regional ward the workplace of link administrator is arranged. The enrollment testament which is given by the enlisting authority after the investigation is substantial for 12 months and can be re-established. The enrolling authority may likewise reject the enlistment of a link administrator. The explanation behind such refusal must be recorded as a hard copy and conveyed to the candidate.

Section 4A was embedded in the Act by the TRAI (Amendment) Act, 2002. Section 4A manages “transmission of projects through addressable framework”. 

Content regulations

The Central Government, openly intrigue can put a commitment on each link administrator to transmit or retransmit a program (Section 2(g)) of any compensation channel through an addressable framework. Out in the open intrigue, the central government may likewise ‘indicate at least one allowed to-air diverts to be remembered for the bundle of channels’ (fundamental help level). The Central Government may likewise, out in the open intrigue determine the most extreme sum which can be charged by the administrator to the endorser for accepting the projects transmitted in the essential assistance level gave by such link administrators. The link administrators need to pitch to endorsers the membership paces of each pay channel at normal stretches.

Section 5 and Section 6 of the Act manage notice code and program code. Every single link administration ought to be in similarity with the codes. Under Section 7, link administrators need to keep up a register concerning the substance transmitted or retransmitted. The link administrator transmits the projects that are endorsed in the Program Code and furthermore a similar condition is appropriate to the notices. Link administrators ought to likewise keep up a register where the rundown of projects is composed which are transmitted or re-transmitted by the Cable administrator for consistently till a year. Each link administrator has an obligation to transmit any two Doordarshan Channels to the watcher through the procedure of re-transmission through their hardware.

Section 9 of the Act orders ‘utilization of standard gear in satellite broadcasting company’. It is the obligation of the link administrator to ensure that the satellite TV stations don’t meddle with approved media transmission frameworks.

Offences and penalties

Section 11 offers the capacity to the approved government, the power to hold onto any link administrator’s hardware if such an official has the motivation to accept that the link administrator is utilizing the gear without appropriate enlistment. Section 16, Section 17 and Section 18 of the Act manage offences under the Act. They set down disciplines for any demonstration which is in contradiction with the arrangements of the Act.

Section 16, Anyone who is held to be in violation of the provisions of this Act, For the first offence: Imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years or with fine which may extend to Rs. 1000 or with both. For every subsequent offence: Imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years and with fine which may extend to Rs. 5000.

Section 17 understanding with when an offence under this Act is submitted by an organization; for this situation the individual in control will be obligated. The Act additionally offers the capacity to the approved officer(Section 2(a)) to deny the transmission of specific projects in public interest enthusiasm under section 19 of the Act.

Under Section 20 of the Act, the Central Government in the interest of the public may forbid the activity cable network. The Central Government may make such a request in light of a legitimate concern for the (i) sovereignty and integrity of India; or (ii) security of India; or (iii) friendly relations of India with any foreign state; or (iv) public order, decency or morality.

2003-Amendment to the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 (Amendment Act)

Various grumblings were enacted by the Government expressing that there has been an absurd increase in the value climb of cable TV by the link administrators. In addition, the link administrator was not paying proper income by passing their salary and under-announcing their salaries. 

The link administrators protected themselves by expressing that the broadcasting industry is unregulated and they are compelled to expand the cost for demonstrating cable TV benefits as the telecom organizations can build the charges according to their desire. So as to address these issues, the legislature selected a particular team.

The Particular team in its examination noticed that the buyers don’t have the decision to choose the excellent channels they needed to observe rather it is given to them in a group regardless of the reality that they need to buy into such a channel or not. So as to offer a decision to the buyer, it suggested the presence of Conditional Access Systems (CAS). This would require the shoppers to set up set-top boxes which will permit the buyers to see all the allowed to air channel and he can decide to observe any of the chief channels for a charge.

This suggestion of the team was acquainted through the 2003 amendment with the Act. The primary target of the Amendment Act was to deliver to the regular and self-assertive increment in link charges. This was presented in Section 4A which permitted administrators to transmit pay channels through an addressable system apart from the essential bundle of allowed to-air channels. There were a lot of discussions concerning the execution of the conditional access systems. So as to clarify the debate, it is essential to comprehend the structure of the link advertises. The link advertise is isolated into three classes. broadcasters, who are at the highest point of the pyramid, the Multi-System Operators are in the center and the neighbourhood link administrators are at the base of the pyramid.

The 2003 Amendment acquainted with conditional access systems was invited by the broadcasters and the MSOs. In any case, the buyer and the nearby link specialist organizations were discontented with this choice on the grounds that the purchasers expected that they need to pay extraordinary rates for pay channels, though the neighbourhood administrators were offended on the grounds that they accepted that conditional access systems would influence their income. Because of the unfriendly response from the customers and the nearby link administrator, the legislature deferred the execution of conditional access systems inconclusively. This, at last, finished in a case Jay Polychem (India) Ltd & Ors. vs S.E. Investment Ltd (2018) under the steady gaze of the Delhi High Court. 

The Delhi High Court concluded that usage of conditional access systems can’t be postponed. Therefore, to this, the administration reported in 2004 that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will deal with the issues in regards to conditional access systems and make proposals on the equivalent. TRAI suggested that conditional access systems ought to be denotified and it tends to be re-presented later when there is sufficient guideline to appropriately actualize it.

The Delhi High Court decided that the implementation of conditional access systems cannot be delayed. Subsequently to this, the government announced in 2004 that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will be handling the problems regarding conditional access systems and make recommendations on the same. TRAI recommended that conditional access systems should be denotified and it can be re-introduced later when there is adequate regulation to properly implement it.

The administration on the suggestion of TRAI pulled back the execution of conditional access systems. In the case of Hathaway Cable Datacom v. Union of India (2006), this issue was confronted with another challenge, and this time the single appointed authority seat of the Delhi High Court held that the Government doesn’t have any ground to suspend the conditional access systems and it has ignored the past choice of the Delhi High Court in Jay Polychem (India) Ltd & Ors. vs S.E. Investment Ltd. At long last, the government re-presented conditional access systems however subsequent to giving guidelines regarding its working and usage.

Conclusion

The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 that governs the service of cable television networks in the country and related matters, was introduced with a thought that it will balance the issues regarding the television and network, and with that perspective, the legislation became the medium for resolving the network issue.

References


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