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Broadcasting Regulations In India And How They Are Different From UK

Every citizen has right to broadcast his article, book, painting and own views through various broadcasting media like T.V. channels, FM radio, news papers, magazine, mobile networks etc. This right is also regulated by Supreme Court through its various decisions also has extend the scope of freedom of speech and expression. Their use must be controlled and regulated by public authority in public interest to prevent the invasion of this right.

System Of Broadcasting Regulations In India

  1. All executive and legislative power over posts, telegraph, telephones, wireless, broadcasting and other forms of communication vests with the union.
  2. Indian telegraphic Act Principal pillar for regulation of communications and broadcast.
  3. This Act is not confined to the concept of telegraph but all other modern communication devices.
  4. Sec 4 of the Act states that the Central government has exclusive privilege of establishing, maintaining and working telegraphs within India.

Major Laws And Regulations

  • Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 as amended.
  • Cable Television Networks Rule 1994 as amended.
  • Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act. 1997 as amended.
  • Prasar Bharti (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act 1990 as amended.
  • Sports Broadcasting Signal (mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharti) Act. 2007.
  • Policy Guidelines for up linking from India as amended in 2011.
  • Policy Guidelines for downlinking of Television Channels as amended in 2011
  • Guidelines for obtaining DTH license.
  • The Telegraph Act. 1885.
  • 2nd Amendment to Cable Television Networks(Regulation) Act 1995, mandating total digitalization in all Cable Networks by Dec 2014.

Broadcasting Services In India

  • Cable TV (Analogue and Digital)
  • DTH services
  • Terrestrial TV (Doordarshan)
  • Internet Protocol Television (IPTV)
  • Radio (AIR, FM radio, Community radio)

Key Features Of Broadcasting Regulations In India

  • Provide signals on non-discriminate basis to the distributors.
  • Share important sporting events of national importance with the public broadcaster.
  • Mandatory carriage of channels of public broadcaster and those operated by and on behalf of the parliament.
  • TV channels to be carried over must have up-linking and downlinking guidelines.
  • Must carry provisions for national and all regional languages.
  • Detailed quality of service.
  • Must have all provisions for regulation, appointment of members to the governing body and grievance redressal mechanisms.

Regulations In Broadcasting Sector

Interconnection Regulations:

  • Regulation of agreements between the service providers.
  • These regulations help the service providers in finalising the commercial and technical terms and conditions to enter into an agreement.

Quality Of Service Regulations:

  • Connection, disconnection and shifting of satellite TV services.
  • Complaint redressal
  • Billing and other related aspects
  • Set top box related issues
  • Technical parameters to be followed by the service providers.

Tarrif Orders:

  • Prescribes the rate of wholesale, retail tarrifs and revenue share among the service providers

Broadcasting Regulations In Uk:


Ofcom is the regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. It regulates the TV and radio sectors, fixed line telecoms, mobiles, postal services, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate. Ofcom works with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

Code Of Practice

  • Drawn up by variety of independent bodies.
  • Following public consultation.
  • Sometimes established by media or journalists.
The various codes of conduct in place in the UK generally provide guidelines for media professionals, rather than setting clear prohibitions on specific types of content. They represent an attempt to provide some guidance to the media recognising, however, that the world is almost infinitely complex and that it is simply not possible to provide clear rules about what is and what is not allowed in all situations. A variety of competing interests will generally be in play, including the public's right to know, the practical realities of life in the media, particularly the need to publish in a timely fashion, and various private interests, such as privacy.

Specific Content Rules

In addition to the above mentioned code, the media is also subject to various specific content rules governing defamation, obscenity, hate speech etc.
  1. Print media is entirely self regulating and is free from statutory rules.
  2. Broadcast media:
    1. Private media is regulated by an independent television commission (ITC) and radio authority.
    2. Public media is regulated by British Broadcasting Corporation and is not subject to ITC licensing.

Regulation In Private Sector:

The Broadcasting Act 1996, establishes two bodies to license and regulate private broadcasting in the UK, the Radio Authority (RA) and the Independent Television Commission (ITC). Members of both bodies are appointed by the government. But in practice they function independently of government control. These bodies are funded by the license fees that they charge from the broadcasters. Both the bodies must ensure that licensees respect their license terms and conditions.

The Broadcasting Act 1990 prohibits the broadcasting of:
  • any programme which offends good taste or decency;
  • material which incites crime or disorder;
  • matter which is offensive to public feeling;
  • news which is not impartial and accurate;
  • religious programmes which are not responsible; and
  • any illegal content, such as obscene or racially inflammatory material.

Regulation In Public Sector:

The British Broadcasting Corporation is the public service broadcaster in the UK. It was established by Royal Charter in 1926. It provides television and radio services both to the UK and beyond. It is funded primarily through the licence fee, which every person who owns a television in the UK must pay, and secondly through commercial activities. Though it is established by the executive order and its governors are appointed by the government, in reality it functions independently of government.

The Corporation is required to draw up a code regulating these matters in detail and all producers are required to adhere to the codes, subject to internal procedures.
The BBC has developed a very detailed code, known as the Producers Guidelines, which is regularly updated.

Functions Of BBC:

The Broadcasting Act, 1996 has established the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) which has control over all the public and private broadcasters. It mandates the following functions:
  1. producing codes of conduct relating to fairness, privacy and standards;
  2. monitoring, conducting research and compiling reports on standards and fairness in UK broadcasting; and
  3. receiving and adjudicating upon complaints from the general public.

Difference Between India And Uk With Respect To Broadcasting Regulations:

In India, the regulation of broadcasting is entrusted to the Union. Whereas in UK, it is entrusted to both private and public entities. Self-regulatory process is not working in India.
In UK, the print media is totally self-regulating in nature. Both print and broadcast media is independent from government control in the UK. A code of practice for broadcasting services is established to ensure integrity and interest of the public.

There is no code of practice as that of UK India. Unlike India, there is balance between privacy and public interest. The media may show anonymous public but only when their act indicates that they are public in nature. The Indian regulatory committee is controlled only by the government officials appointed to the board. Whereas in UK, both media and non-media persons are involved in the regulatory mechanism. The media in UK is totally impartial and does not use any power to influence public opinion.

In India, press and media is predominantly influenced by political authorities. The media in UK is not favour to one point. One cannot make own issues and statements. During elections, complicated rules are made in order to regulate the spread of false information. The rules and regulations of the media and the code of practice in UK is flexible and can be changed according to the needs of the service providers. This practice cannot be followed ion India because any rule to be amended must follow a set of rules and procedures. The regulatory bodies are highly professional, fair, transparent and Impartial in UK.

  1. LIC of India v. Manubhai D. Shah
  3. Broadcasting Act 1990, ss. 6, 90 and Part VII.
  4. Clause 2.1 of the Agreement, on the BBC's website at

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