Duty of channel owners to ensure telecast does not violate programme code: Centre to Delhi HC

The Central government has informed the Delhi High Court that it’s the duty of the channel owners to ensure that their telecast doesn’t violate Programme Code and a Fact Checking Unit has been set up to combat fake news.

“…it is the responsibility of the channel’s owner to ensure that a programme telecast on private TV channel does not violatethe Programme Code prescribed under Rule 6 of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, however, it clarified that fact unit has been set up to take cognisance of fake news,” the Centre said in an affidavit.

“A Fact Check Unit (FCU) has been set in Press Information Bureau under the Ministry which takes cognisance of fake news and misinformation reporter on social media both on suo motu and by way of queries or through email or Whatsapp,” it added.

The high court was also informed that the ministry has also directed the states to set up State Level and District Level Monitoring Committee (DLMC) to regulate telecast.

FCU has recieved 49, 625 queries on whatsapp/ email between 26.04.2020 to 18.02.2021. Out of these, the actionable cases of 15,992 have been countered/replied and the PIB has busted 505 cases during this, the government told the court.

“The The DLMC provides a forum where the public may lodge a complaint regarding content aired over any television distribution platform (Cable, DTH, HITS or IPTV), private FM Channels and Community Radio Stations operating in the District and take action,” the affidavit read further.

It further added that the mandate of the District level Committees includes keeping a watch on the content carried by Television Distribution Platform Operator at local level and ensuring that it is in conformity with the prescribed Programme and Advertising Code.

The said response came in an ongoing petitions moved by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Manjit Singh GK seeking to frame the necessary guidelines and to constitute a committee for handling the fake-news on various social handles.

The ministry has also told the Court that as per Cable Television Networks (Ragulation) Act,1995, there is no pre-censorship ofa programme telecast on private TV channels, however, Section 5 of the Act provides that “no person shall transmit or re-transmit through a cable service any programme, unless such programme is in conformity with the prescribed programme code

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