Proposed Broadcasting Bill will ‘irreparably damage free speech’, says journalists’ body

NWMI said the bill gives ‘inordinate powers’ to the government to control the news media.

WrittenBy:NL Team
Illustration of a document titled 'Broadcasting Bill'.

Two months after the government released the Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023 for public consultation, journalists body Network of Women in Media, India has submitted that the proposed bill “will irreparably damage the free press, free speech and creative freedom in India”. 

The bill seeks to replace the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 to provide a comprehensive set of norms for all broadcasting content, from television to streaming platforms. In its detailed submission to the information and broadcasting ministry, NWMI said the bill gives “inordinate powers” to the government to “control the country’s entertainment and news media”. 

The NWMI flagged concerns that the bill’s “vaguely worded provisions”, including its definition of “news and current affairs programmes”, arm it with the potential to cover content creators, social media accounts of professional journalists and even citizen journalists. It said the lack of clarity could have a “chilling effect”.  

The statement issued on Thursday added that the bill places “unreasonable curbs” on news and entertainment outlets and the requirements mentioned in it could “potentially put small news operators out of business”. 

The media body said the bill goes against “the very foundations of media freedom in mature democracies” and could potentially “drastically alter the media landscape in India”. 

Newslaundry earlier explained in what ways the broadcasting bill could change the digital landscape. Watch here.

This report was published with AI assistance. 

Also see
article imageDigital Dialogues: Different kinds of censorship, thanks to the broadcast regulation bill

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