'YouTubers Are On The Edge': Content Creators Express Concerns Over Implications Of New Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill

'YouTubers Are On The Edge': Content Creators Express Concerns Over Implications Of New Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill

The proposed Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill of 2023 has raised concerns among independent journalists, who fear that it aims to suppress voices critical of government policies and decisions.

Megha KuchikUpdated: Monday, January 08, 2024, 11:14 AM IST
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'YouTubers Are On The Edge': Content Creators Express Concerns Over Implications Of New Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill | Representative image

YouTubers and content creators may have reached the proverbial crossroads in their careers, going by the proposed Draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill of 2023. The Central government released the draft of the Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill on November 10 and had sought suggestions from citizens until January 15, 2024. This bill aims to replace or widen the almost three-decade-old Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995.

Currently, the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995 mainly covers Doordarshan and private news channels. Critics have expressed concern that the new bill could encompass all YouTube channels, Over-theTop (OTT) platforms, and even social media platforms like WhatsApp. They believe that content such as voices, videos, memes and comedy shows broadcast on YouTube could fall under the purview of the proposed new legislation.

Implications Of New Bill

The draft bill allows government officers to conduct unannounced inspections at the homes or offices of YouTubers or content creators and seize their equipment without prior notice. Many clauses in the draft bill remain vague, leaving uncertainty about its scope and implications.

The proposed Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill of 2023 has raised concerns among independent journalists, who fear that it aims to suppress voices critical of government policies and decisions.

Reactions From YouTubers

Sohit Mishra, a former NDTV journalist who now operates the 'Sohit Mishra Official YouTube channel', voiced his apprehensions. This bill is dangerous. Mainstream media often do not question the government. As a result, journalists are increasingly leaving mainstream media to establish themselves on social platforms and YouTube channels, feeling restricted in the traditional media. Now, the government seems intent on suppressing these voices on alternative platforms too. This bill will undoubtedly impact independent journalists and content creators. Specifically, it targets those journalists who critique the governmentÂ’s policies and decisions. As viewership on these YouTube channels grows, trust lost in mainstream media, this bill appears designed to suppress genuine journalism.

Recently, the Telecom Bill of 2023 was passed in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, replacing the 138-year-old Telegraph Act of 1885. Recently, DIGIPUB organised a session in Delhi on the Telecommunications Bill of 2023 and the Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill of 2023. In this session, Lawyer Apar Gupta emphasised the interconnectedness between these bills and the Digital Personal Data Protection Act of 2023, suggesting a broader agenda of control.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) released a 72-page Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill draft, aiming to modernise and streamline the regulatory framework for the broadcasting sector. The MIB stated, "With the digitization of the broadcasting sector, especially in cable TV, there is a growing need to streamline the regulatory framework. This involves ensuring ease of doing business and enhancing adherence to the Programme Code and Advertisement Code by the broadcasters and Distribution Platform Operators. Recognizing the need for a more cohesive approach, the existing fragmented regulatory framework is required to be replaced with a new, comprehensive law.

Anay Jogalekar, Editor of the 'mh48' YouTube channel, commented, "In the digital age, that hundreds of hours of broadcast quality content is produced and streamed through various social media platforms and is beyond the Indian regulatory framework is a harsh reality. Therefore, consolidating and updating the regulatory provisions and bringing them under a single legislative framework, updating definitions to make them ready for the future, infrastructure sharing and making content accessible to all are important issues that this bill tries to address. However, some doubt that regulating these platforms is equal to regulating the Internet. These platforms have created millions of jobs around content creators. Many of them operate on their own or with a very small team. I hope that this bill will allow them breathing space while weeding out miscreants."

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