Self-Regulatory Mechanism for News Channels to be Strengthened

In an order dated September 18, 2023, the Supreme Court in the case of News Broadcasters Association v. Union of India & Ors. [SLP(C) Nos. 17959-17960/2023] expressed the need to strengthen the self-regulatory mechanisms for news channels. Accepting the request of the petitioners, the Court granted four weeks’ time for preparing and presenting the proposed regulations before the Court.

Referring to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the respondents submitted that the Central Government had a mechanism in place which operated at three tiers, the first being self-regulation.

The Court questioned the effectiveness of the current self-regulatory mechanism which provides for the imposition of a Rs. 1 Lakh fine on the channels. Terming it as lenient, the Court specified that it needed “some teeth”. The Division Bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justice J B Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra held that self-regulation “needs to be tightened up to bring some kind of discipline”.

However, the Court clarified that it did not intend to impose any pre-censorship or post-censorship on the media. With this, the Court granted four weeks’ time to formulate and present the proposed regulations.

The matter will be heard next on October 20, 2023.