The Centre has told Delhi High Court that it is the responsibility of the private TV channel owner to ensure that programmes it telecast does not violate the Programme Code prescribed under Rule 6 of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.
It, however, clarified that a unit has been set up to take cognisance of fake news.
A Fact Check Unit (FCU) has been set in Press Information Bureau under the Ministry which takes cognisance of fake news and misinformation reported on social media both on suo motu and by way of queries or through email or WhatsApp. The unit also maintains a Twitter account and posts case of fake news, being busted, on the same on regular basis.
The FCU has received 49, 625 queries on WhatsApp/email between April 26, 2020, to February 18, 2021. Out of these, the actionable cases of 15,992 have been countered/replied and the PIB has busted 505 cases during this, the government told the court.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting response came on an affidavit filed through advocate Ajay Digpaul. The reply has been filed in two petitions moved by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Manjit Singh GK seeking to frame the necessary guidelines and to constitute a committee for handling the fake news on various social handles.
The Ministry told the Court that as per Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, there is no pre-censorship of a programme telecast on private TV channels, however, Section 5 of the Act provides that “no person shall transmit or re-transmit through a cable service any programme, unless such programme is in conformity with the prescribed programme code.”
Thus, it is the responsibility of the channel’s owner to ensure that a programme telecast on a private TV channel does not violate the programme code prescribed under Rule 6 of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994. Whenever a violation of the Programme Code is brought to the notice of the Ministry, appropriate action is taken as per Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, it was informed.
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