In the new uplink and downlink guidelines for private television stations effective November 9, 2022, the government has made it mandatory for television stations to broadcast content of national significance, social relevance and public interest during 30 minutes each day.
Under the “Public Service Broadcasting Obligation” clause, the guidelines stated that airwave frequencies are a public good and should be used in the best interests of society.
“A company/LLP having clearance under these guidelines for the uplink of a channel and its downlink in India (other than foreign channels only downlink in India) may undertake a public service broadcast during a minimum period of 30 minutes per day on topics of national and social significance, including the following, namely —
(i) education and dissemination of literacy;
(ii) agriculture and rural development;
(iii) health and family welfare;
(iv) science and technology;
(v) the welfare of women;
(vi) the well-being of the weakest strata of society;
(vii) protection of the environment and cultural heritage; and
(viii) national integration.
“Channels may, for this purpose, modulate their content in an appropriate manner to fulfill the obligation referred to in paragraph (1), unless this is not possible, as in the case of
case of sports channels, etc. “, say the new guidelines.
The central government may, from time to time, issue a general notice to channels for broadcasting content of national interest, and the channel must comply with it, according to the guidelines.
Speaking to the media, I&B Secretary Apurva Chandra said the requirement was new and the ministry would consult with broadcasters on ways to implement it.
“We will issue a general notice separately after talking to stakeholders about how to fulfill the requirement to provide a 30-minute slot for content related to the national and public interest,” Chandra said.
Chandra clarified that content subject to this requirement will not be provided by the government.
“The correct term for this is national importance and social relevance. We have defined eight areas for this and it is up to a broadcaster to choose any theme,” Chandra said.
“Even the entertainment channels can choose one of these eight themes and make their shows around them. They already have such themes in their programming. In fact, we also see feature films around these themes. So, these topics are covered extensively and this is just an addition to the new guidelines,” he added.