The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has notified amendments to the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 on October 5. This provides an operational mechanism for implementation of the decriminalization provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
Earlier, the ministry had set the date of notification as October 3, 2023. This was changed as it was expected to give effect to the provisions of the Public Trust (Amendment of Provisions) Act, 2023 and Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
Section 16 of this Act deals with punishment for violation of any of its provisions. Section 16 of this Act provided for a punishment of imprisonment up to 2 years for the first contravention extendable to 5 years for each subsequent contravention.
Changes in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995
With a view to making the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 more business-friendly and enhancing investor confidence in the sector, the penalties specified under Section 16 were re-examined and decriminalized through the Public Trust (Amendment of Provisions) Act, 2023. Now these provisions of imprisonment have been replaced by monetary penalties and other non-monetary measures like advice, warning, censure. These measures were implemented through the “Designated Officer” defined in the notified rules. Further, section 16 now also provides for an appeal mechanism against the order made by the designated officer. Sections 17 and 18 have been removed as they are redundant.
Benefits of these changes:
- Now instead of being sensitive to small or unintentional violations and giving harsh punishments, it will encourage compliance with this Act as the scope of punishment includes advice, reprimand and warnings.
- These revised provisions allow for a range of penalties to be used, providing flexibility in responding to different types of violations.
- This amendment to these rules defines a “designated officer” to impose fine.
- The inclusion of an appeal mechanism provides individuals or institutions with the opportunity to challenge relevant penalties or decisions.
- This mechanism ensures a fair and transparent process and safeguards against possible abuse of power.
- Decriminalizing violations of the provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and replacing them with civil penalties will boost the confidence of more than 1400 multi-system operators and promote ‘ease of doing business’.
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