A parliamentary committee has expressed surprise at the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry's failure to check the sources that carry non-permitted television channels other than the cable operators.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology has said it cannot understand the reason behind the I&B Ministry's assertion that the cable operators were to be blamed for the carriage of illegal television channels.
The Parliamentary committee has said that a document prepared by the I&B Ministry had stated, while explaining how illegal channels reach subscribers' homes through cable networks, that the source can be broadband, internet, IPTV, mobile TV, video streaming, etc.
During its examination of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) (Second Amendment) Bill aimed at curbing telecast of illegal channels, the committee noted that even the Prime Minister's Office had asked the ministry to check carriage of non-permitted channels on the internet.
In the views furnished by the PMO to the ministry at the consultation stage, it was specifically mentioned that the problem of availability of non-permitted TV channels for viewing over the internet needs to be taken cognisance of and that the Ministry can take further action.
The committee, therefore, expressed surprise that the ministry has tried to ignore the important concern expressed by the PMO.
Instead of examining the issue, the Ministry has stated that the internet is, by and large, unregulated, except for certain restrictions under the Information Technology Act. The committee failed to understand how the issue of transmitting illegal/unregistered channels can be addressed in entirety without regulating a key source - the internet.
The committee during the course of deliberations tried to analyse the specific reasons for bringing the proposed amendments in the Cable Act that would be applicable to only cable operators in the context of showing illegal/unregistered channels.
The ministry justified the proposed amendments on the pretext that the DTH and IPTV services providers do not indulge in carriage of illegal channel as the channels carried on DTH service and IPTV service can be centrally monitored as these are addressable and leave a digital trail.
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