MoI&B | Government of India decriminalises Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995

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Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued a notification amending the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, to implement the provisions of the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Act, 2023, which decriminalizes certain provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.

Earlier, the Ministry had declared October 3, 2023, as the effective date for the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Act, 2023, related to the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.

Section 16 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, previously stipulated punishments for violations, including imprisonment of up to 2 years for a first offense and 5 years for subsequent offenses. To promote a more business-friendly environment and enhance investor confidence in the sector, the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provision) Act, 2023, has replaced these imprisonment provisions with monetary penalties and non-monetary measures such as advisories, warnings, and censure. These measures will be enforced by designated officers as defined in the newly-notified rules. Additionally, Section 16 introduces an appeals mechanism against decisions made by designated officers, while Sections 17 and 18 have been omitted as they were deemed redundant.

Benefits of this decriminalization include:

  1. Encouragement of compliance without resorting to harsh punishments.
  2. Flexibility to address various types of contraventions proportionally.
  3. Streamlined enforcement process with the introduction of a designated officer.
  4. Consistency and deterrence against habitual contraventions.
  5. Fairness and transparency through the inclusion of an appeal mechanism.
  6. Definition of common terms in the cable industry for uniform usage.

Currently, there are over 1400 Multi-system Operators registered with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Decriminalizing contraventions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, and replacing them with civil penalties is expected to boost stakeholder confidence and promote ease of doing business in the sector.

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