As a part of the guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of satellite television channels in India 2022 which were approved by the Union cabinet all the satellite TV channels in India are required to broadcast 30 minutes if content daily on national importance and social relevance.
These guidelines have been amended after 11 years, the government has already taken numerous steps to increase the ease of doing business, and to date, about 870 channels are operational in the satellite TV industry.
The revised guidelines have made it an obligation for all channels including the private TV channels to undertake 30 minutes of public service broadcasting. The guidelines have already been enforced, but in practice, the channels have been given some time to conceptualize creative content. The Ministry shall very soon issue a specific advisory about the date the content has to start and the time slots for its telecast.
The fact behind this decision is that the officials have argued that airwaves and frequencies are public property and must be used in the best interest of society. Representatives of several broadcasters have pointed out the fact that airways may be public property but the telecom users have already paid a very hefty fee for its use and any binding guidelines which may affect their overall function and their commercial interests shall be unfair.
The official orders have identified “eight themes of national importance and social relevance.” These are agriculture and rural development, education and the spread of literacy, health and family welfare, science and technology, the welfare of women, the welfare of weaker sections of society, protection of the environment, cultural heritage, and national integration.
Once the guidelines have been implemented the ministry will ensure proper monitoring of the channels for the broadcast of this content. If the Ministry observes any non-compliance an explanation will be sought from the channel. If a channel continues to be non-compliant stringent steps will be taken depending on case to case on the basis of advisory issued by the government.
All channels fall under the ambit of these guidelines, but a few channels, like the wildlife channels, the foreign channels, and the live sports telecasts, where it might not be feasible to follow them, are kept as exceptions.
The guidelines cover a range of subjects, including uplinking and downlinking, the hiring and purchase of broadcast equipment, changes in name and logo, etc. The policy mandates that channels Uplinking frequency in C-band must encrypt their signals. The uplinking and downlinking shall be subject to clearance and approval by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the concerned authorities.
This new policy is in the national interest and also eases compliance for TV channels, as it will allow Indian broadcasts to uplink foreign channels for Indian television and enhance employment in India.