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Editors Guild of India calls the broadcast bill vague and excessive, highlighting censorship concerns

Published by the MIB on November 10, the draft Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill 2023 brings over-the-top (OTT) broadcasting services (streaming services like Disney+Hotstar and Netflix) under the scope of regulation.

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) has called out the draft Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill, 2023 for being “vague and excessive”, in its submission to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB). EGI says that since the bill covers all broadcasting services including news broadcasting and digital news platforms, it is deeply concerned that it would be “ adverse to the spirit of freedom of speech and freedom of press guaranteed by the constitution.” The MIB published the draft Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill 2023 on November 10. It notably brings over-the-top (OTT) broadcasting services (streaming services like Disney+Hotstar and Netflix) under the scope of regulation. It also says that any person broadcasting news and current affairs through an online paper, news portal, website, social media intermediary, or other mediums, excluding publishers of newspapers and replica e-papers of such newspapers as a part of systematic business, professional or commercial activity must adhere to the yet to be prescribed Programme Code and Advertising Code. Further, any rules for streaming services would also apply to those broadcasting news. EGI points out that the bill doesn’t define both “news and current affairs” and what “systematic business, profession or commercial activity” means, making the provision regulating news services “ vague, overbroad, and worrisome”. It also says that while the provisions for OTT broadcasters apply to those broadcasting news, it is unclear whether a threshold of subscribers/viewers will be prescribed for who qualifies as a broadcaster. Key concerns flagged by the Editor’s Guild: Programme and advertising…

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