Regulation of Digital Content | UPSC

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IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 13th Nov 2020

“The harder I work, the luckier I get.” – Gary Player

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #239 :“Regulation of Digital Content | UPSC

Regulation of Digital Content | UPSC

Sashi Kumar
Regulation of Digital Content | UPSC

Sashi Kumar is Chairman, Asian College of Journalism and Asiaville Interactive digital portal

      HEADLINES:

Media regulation that is quite over the top

      CENTRAL THEME:

Bringing digital media under the I&B Ministry nips in the bud the promise of combative journalism

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3 : Information and Broadcasting : Data : Communication

      MAINS QUESTION:

Regulating Online Content has its own advantages and disadvantages. Discuss -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Scope and application
  • Media Regulation – A smart move
  • A self regulatory code
  • Media regulation – curbs freedom of speech
  • Way Forward

      INTRODUCTION: 

  • SCOPE OF APPLICATION : It covers “Digital/Online Media”, including “films and audio-visual programmes made available by online content providers” and “news and current affairs content on online platforms”.

It will give the government control over these platforms, which were unregulated till now as there is no law or autonomous body governing digital content.

  • AMBIT OF LAW : Online content providers come under the legal framework of the Information Technology Act 2000 but, unlike print and broadcast media, were not directly under any Ministry.

      BODY: 

MEDIA REGULATION – A SMART MOVE

  • SMART MOVE : The state’s move bringing online news and current affairs portals along with “films and audio-visual programmes under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is a smart move.
  • LEVEL PLAYING FIELD : There is definitely a need for a level playing field for all media. Handling fake news is a big challenge to be taken down.
  • PROLIFERATION OF ONLINE PLATFORMS : There are about 600 million internet users in the country — there needs to be parity between regulations on them and traditional media sources.
  • SELECTIVE BIAS : Digital news outlets and platforms that cover “current affairs” — potentially including Facebook and Twitter. These can be regulated now.
  • REGULATING BODY : The state had indicated the necessity to monitor these platforms and wanted the platforms to come up with a self-regulatory body.

EXAMPLE
Movies and shows appearing on services like Netflix  and Amazon Prime Video did not require a certification and had wider tolerance for sensitive subjects.

A SELF REGULATORY CODE

In January 2019, eight video streaming services had signed a self-regulatory code to prohibited five types of content:

  1. Content that deliberately and maliciously disrespects the national emblem or national flag.
  2. Any visual or storyline that promotes child pornography.
  3. Any content that “maliciously” intends to outrage religious sentiments.
  4. Content that “deliberately and maliciously” promotes or encourages terrorism.
  5. Any content that has been banned for exhibition or distribution by law or court.

However, the state refused to support this code and expressed displeasure at a model suggested by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

MEDIA REGULATION – CURBS FREEDOM OF SPEECH

  • A MATTER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW : Relating it to freedom of the press and freedom of expression to arm the executive with control over the free press, thereby essentially making it unfree.

And regulation — other than self-regulation — is nothing but censorship.

  • ARTIFICIAL DISTINCTION : It seeks to divide and rule the press by creating an artificial distinction between the new-age digital media which is the media of the future and the older print and TV news media.
  • OVER REGULATION : The Ministry is already regulating news and entertainment content on TV and radio through statutory bodies .

WHO REGULATES WHAT ?

  • PRINT MEDIA : Press Council of India (a statutory, quasi-judicial authority).
  • TELEVISION : News Broadcasting Standards Authority (self-regulatory body) set up by the News Broadcasters Association(NBA) regulates television news.

Electronic Media Monitoring Centre, set up in 2008, monitors content on TV.Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (independent and self-regulatory) for television entertainment.

  • FILMS : Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • ADVERTISEMENT : Advertising Standards Council of India (a self-regulatory body).

      IASbhai Windup: 

FATE OF DIGITAL MEDIA

  • PROPER FRAMEWORK : There is a real need for having an appropriate oversight framework for online news and content, at par with traditional media platforms.
  • CONTEMPORARY JOURNALISM. : The fate of the digital media under the regulations leaves little scope and dooms the sector for the new vibrant face of contemporary journalism.
  • CLARITY IS NEEDED : However, there are no details on how the state will regulate it. There is a possibility that the Programme Code of the Cable Television Network Regulation Act 1995 may serve rules for online content.

Independent and free news on Doordarshan and All India Radio is even under the so-called autonomous corporation, Prasar Bharati.

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Regulation of Digital Content | UPSC

TRENDING NOW : Important The Hindu Editorials 

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