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I&B Ministry seeks public comments on amendments in Cinematograph Act

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has sought comments from stakeholders on draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which aims to introduce age-based classification for film certification, stricter measures to curb piracy as well as provisions that will empower the Central government to direct the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to re-examine the certification of a film.

The Ministry has sought comments from the public on the proposed bill by July 2.

“The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting proposes to introduce the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which will make the process of sanctioning of films for exhibition more effective, in tune with the changed times and curb the menace of piracy,” it said in its notice.

Among the changes the Ministry has proposed the “Unrestricted Public Exhibition” certification category (known as U/A) to be further sub-divided into age-based categories such U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+. Similar age-based classification has also been prescribed by the Central government in the new IT rules for OTT content.

In terms of granting revisional powers to the Central government, the draft bill has also proposed provisions that in respect of a film certified for public exhibition, the government, “may if it considers necessary to do so, direct the Chairman of the Board to re-examine the film.”

Noting that film piracy causes huge losses to the film industry and government exchequer, the Ministry stated that in most cases illegal duplication in cinema halls is the originating point of piracy. “At present, there are no enabling provisions to check film piracy in the Cinematograph Act, 1952 making it necessary to have a provision in the Act to check film piracy,” it added.

The Ministry has proposed to add provisions that prohibit unauthorised recording as well as penalties which include jail-term which can extend upto three years as well as fines.

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