The Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) is an independent self-regulatory body set-up by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation in 2011, in consultation with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The primary role of BCCC is to implement self regulatory guidelines for non-news channels, including general entertainment channels, kids channels and special interest channels.
1. The self-regulatory body has 13 members: one chairperson, four non-broadcast members, four members from national level statutory commissions, and four members from the broadcast industry. Retired Supreme Court judge A P Singh serves as the chairman of the industry body. Members representing the broadcast fraternity are: Ashok Nambissan of MSM, Deepak Jacob of Star India, Nittin Keni of Zee Network and Sujeet Jain of Viacom 18.
2. The guidelines have been formulated after deliberations from the industry and the Government of India around areas such as national interest, racial and religious harmony, ill treatment of children, social values, sex and nudity, violence and crime, gambling, drugs, smoking, tobacco consumption, alcohol, defamation, harm and offence.
In the case of a valid complaint, the respective channel is asked to provide their view on the offending content within one working week of receipt of a letter from BCCC. Post evaluation of the channel’s response, if the BCCC committee is not satisfied, it has the power to pass a directive asking necessary modifications or withdrawal of such content, failing which, the BCCC sends out a detailed report to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting within 24 hours.
3. In a recent development, BCCC presented a report to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, recommending heavy fines in accordance with the degree of violation of advisories. In an official communiqué released by the BCCC, Justice A P Singh, chairman, BCCC, was quoted saying that about 50 per cent of the complaints received by the council relate to sex and obscenity, especially in American serials.
Reacting to BCCC’s claim, Anand Chakravarthy, business head, Big CBS Networks, says, “The BCCC is an industry body. And its job is to remind channels about what is not acceptable in terms of content on TV. As far as the English entertainment genre is concerned, most of the content comes from the West. And, as we all know, it sometimes, tends to be risqué in nature. So you can’t really help, because that’s more or less the nature of the genre. Also, there is an audience for that kind of content. Channels cater to their specific audiences, and there is nothing wrong in it. But, while you do that, it’s important to not cross the line as that could backfire as a strategy.”
Manjit Singh, chairman, Indian Broadcast Federation (IBF), is of the opinion that BCCC is doing a fairly good job of monitoring content on TV. “BCCC was set up with the objective to aid and promote the self-regulatory practice in the broadcast industry. Its job is to monitor content as per the guidelines set by the IBF and Ministry of Information in a joint effort,” he maintains.
He further adds, “There is no doubt that self-regulation is the way to go for the industry. The BCCC has some eminent personalities as members of the council, who’re doing a very fine job of ensuring that the industry, as a whole, is moving towards a strong self-regulation mechanism. It is good for all stakeholders – broadcasters, advertisers, viewers and last but not the least, the Government of India.”
Janardhan Pandey, associate vice president, Mudra Max, observes, “For broadcasters, it’s about acceptability among their audiences that matters the most. And, one way of building that acceptance level is by investing time and effort in producing quality content as against controversial content, which invariably comes under the scanner of industry bodies, and in some cases, the Government.”
4. Till 30 November 2012, BCCC had received 8,628 complaints and suggestions, including 1,072 ‘specific complaints’. So far, BCCC has issued seven advisories to member channels on different topics of concern. It is critical for the industry to practice self-regulation to ensure smooth growth in years to come, opine industry watchers.
What it means for...
- Increased goodwill and reputation
- Lesser Government intervention
- Self-regulation will ensure smooth growth
- Lesser controversies
- Increase in overall quality of content