Legal experts have voiced several concerns with the draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, which seeks to create a consolidated legal framework for the broadcasting sector in India. Published on November 10 by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the proposed legislation aims to replace the nearly three-decade-old Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995 and bring under its ambit over-the-top media providers and digital news platforms.

The main problems flagged were the potential for censorship of over-the-top platforms, the erosion of the independence of digital media and the lack of clarity with regard to regulation.

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The bill extends the regulatory framework to cover digital news platforms and over-the-top content that is streamed via the internet, such as by Netflix.

Further, it introduces a system of self-regulation through content evaluation committees. It mandates that over-the-top platforms can only broadcast programmes certified by these committees formed themselves by the platforms, except for those the government exempts from such certification.

Finally, it establishes a Broadcast Advisory Council to advise the Union government on violations of the programme code and advertisement code.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is accepting feedback from stakeholders on the bill till December 9.

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