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I&B ministry proposes changes to Cable TV Act

The Union Ministry for Information and Broadcasting has proposed changes to the Cable Television Act, which would not only increase a ten-fold pecuniary penalty for violation of the programming or advertising codes, but would also bring more services under the ambit of the I&B ministry as there were earlier. According to draft changes to the Cable TV Act, the ministry has defined ground-based channels, platform services – which had come into limelight after NaMo TV was found to be beyond the regulatory purview during general elections – and satellite TV channels, and had defined distribution platform operators (DPOs), DTH, headend-in-the-sky (HITS), IPTV, local cable operators (LCOs), and multi system operators (MSOs). Ground-based channels, platform services, and satellite TV channels have also been defined.

Some of the most significant changes to the existing Cable TV Act include changing the punishment for violation of either the Programming Code or the Advertising Code proscribed. It has increased the fine for the first offence from `1000 to `10,000, along with a 2-year term, from `50,000 from `5000 with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years earlier.

The proposed law mentions that any violation of the two codes could lead to either issuing advisory, or censure, or warning; prohibition of transmission of offending program; apology scroll specifying the date and time; or prohibition of transmission of the channel for a period not exceeding 30 days; otherwise, the central government may cancel the permission granted to the channel after giving due opportunity to the channel, provided that no such action shall be taken without giving the broadcaster/DPO/cable operator an opportunity of being heard.

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