The Kerala High Court on Friday directed the Centre not to take any coercive action against the members of News Broadcasters Association (NBA), which represents several news channels, for non-compliance of the amended Cable TV Rules which provide for an oversight mechanism over content of news channels.
Justice T R Ravi issued the direction to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the plea by NBA which has also challenged certain provisions of the Cable TV Act and earlier rules framed under it.
The court also issued notice to the ministry and sought its stand on the association”s petition within two weeks.
NBA, represented by senior advocate Maninder Singh and advocate Nisha Bhambhani, has claimed that the amended provisions in the Cable TV Rules creates an oversight mechanism which gives the executive “unfettered, unbridled and excessive powers to regulate the content of the television channels of the news broadcasters”.
Singh, during the hearing, told the court that the amended rules are similar to the new IT rules which NBA had challenged recently.
He said that under the amended Cable TV Rules also, the oversight mechanism would be headed by an additional secretary level officer who would have the power to overrule decisions of the self regulatory body already in place and which is headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court.
He urged the court to pass similar orders of protection as it did in the NBA”s plea challenging the new IT rules.
The court, thereafter, directed that “the respondent (ministry) shall refrain from taking any coercive action against the members of the petitioner for non-compliance of the impugned rules pending disposal of the instant case”. PTI