With the apparent aim of protecting citizens from “objectionable content”, the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry is considering to expand the realm of the Electronic Media Monitoring Committee (EMMC) from 300 to 800 TV channels and take account of private radio services also.
The EMMC established in 2008 supervise about 191 channels on a 24X7 base currently. “The proposal to expand EMMC’s scope has received the approval of the expenditure finance committee, ” U K Varma, I&B secretary said.
The EMMC is believed to monitor the content of all TV channels based on the uplinking and downlinking guidelines in India to confirm the violation of program and advertisement codes as per the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act. The EMMC also monitors private FM radio channels but depends on the radio channel for recordings.
According to the sources, a budget of Rs 90 crore has been allotted for the project. “The burst of TV channels and radio services has made it necessary for the EMMC to be better equipped. It is not enough to keep tabs on 300 channels. There are several regional channels that may be violating the program or advertising code and very often action against them is delayed because we do not have recordings of the objectionable telecast,” told the source. There are about 840 TV channels registered with I&B ministry currently.
Saying on FM Radio, sources added, “Private FM radio channels that are operating in cities are monitored. But there is an urgent need to monitor all radio services for which small listening posts will have to be set up in cities where services have started or will begin after the FM phase III auction.”
Even though news on radio is not permitted and only news examined by AIR will be permissible yet after the FM phase III policy kicks in, there is an attempt to validate its monitoring on the insubstantial ground of there being multiple examples of practical jokes or unfussy remarks made by radio jockeys giving way to controversies.