The Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC), the television body sought assessment of the guidelines issued by the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry for renewing television licenses. BCCC termed the present rules of I&B as violation of freedom of speech.
BCCC cited certain shortcomings of the provision of I&B, in which the Ministry demanded that renewal of licenses for the television channels should be denied in case they are found breaching the advertising and program on 5 different occasions or more than that. BCCC, which is led by Justice (retired) A P Shah, instead sought that the violations by the television channels should in turn be handled with the financial penalties.
BCCC argued that the provisions had questions of constitutionality. The body described that the clauses 10.2 and 8.2 (which ban renewing broadcasting licenses) of the guidelines which were issued by the Ministry in order to handle the renewal of licenses of broadcasters were not in alignment with the Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India.
BCCC described the guidelines as restriction to the freedom of speech and expression, which is a fundamental right, as envisaged in the constitution. BCCC also argued that the guidelines restricted the freedom of trade and profession of the broadcasters. Also, the provisions hampered the right of a citizen to get free and comprehensive information.
BCCC suggested that violations, in turn should be graded from mild to severe cases. The sanctions which should be imposed on these cases should be in terms of fines as well as directions for correction. BCCC suggested that Clause 8.2 and Clause 10.2 should only be imposed in case there were extremely severe and repeated violations.
BCCC suggested that certain factors like duration, damage and degree which resulted because of breach, needed to be accounted in order to find out the severity of violation. Only under certain exceptional circumstances, the suspension or revocation of the license should be resorted to. BCCC additionally suggested that there should be a formulation of an independent Adjudicatory Body for adjudicating the violations which occur during the license tenure.