• The proposed Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023 aims to put in place a comprehensive law to plug the regulatory gaps in the digitized broadcasting sector
  • The Bill streamlines regulatory processes, extends its purview to OTT content and digital news, and introduces contemporary definitions and provisions for emerging technologies, replacing the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, and other policy guidelines currently governing the broadcasting sector.
  • One of the notable features of the Bill is the provision for infrastructure sharing among broadcasting network operators for carriage of platform services. This could be a gamechanger for the broadcasting market similar to how the telecom operators benefited from sharing cellular towers and spectrum.
  • The Bill streamlines Right of Way rules, a major pain point for cable operators who find it difficult to obtain permissions from various local agencies to roll out their network.
  • The push to make broadcasting more inclusive for people with disabilities is a good one. The seriousness of intent is evident from the proposal to appoint a disability grievance officer to monitor compliance.
  • The members of the proposed Broadcast Advisory Council, which will have a final say on censoring content across all mediums including digital news platforms, will all be nominated by the Centre.
  • Hopefully, the Centre will pick at least a few of these members from the broadcast industry and from civil society to keep the panel independent. The Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, seeks to usher in a modern regulatory framework, but it must be implemented with caution. As India navigates the ever changing landscape of broadcasting, striking a balance between regulation and freedom of expression is important.

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