In a bid to boost investor confidence, the government on Thursday notified amendments to the Cable Television Networks Rules that provide the operational mechanism for implementation of the decriminalised provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act. Section 16 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 dealt with the punishment for contraventions under any of its provisions. This section had provision for imprisonment, which might extend up to two years in case of the first instance and five years for every subsequent offence.
The imprisonment provisions have been now replaced with a monetary penalty and other non-monetary measures like advisory, warning and censure, an official statement said.
These measures will be enforced through the “designated officer” defined in the rules notified on Thursday. Moreover, Section 16 now introduces an appeal mechanism against the order made by the designated officer.
The punishments specified under Section 16 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 were decriminalized through the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provision) Act, 2023, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said.
The amendments are expected to encourage compliance with the Act without resorting to harsh punishments and sensitivity to minor or unintended contraventions, the statement said.
The inclusion of advisory, censure, and warnings in the range of penalties suggests the focus is on educating and encouraging compliance rather than solely punishing contraventions, it added.
The amended provision allows for the use of a range of penalties, which provides flexibility in addressing different types of contraventions. It allows for a more proportional response to the nature, specificity and severity of the contravention, the statement said.
The amendment in the rules defines a “designated officer” for imposing penalties and also streamlines the enforcement process by making it simple in addition to unburdening the criminal justice system.
It addresses subsequent contraventions and in addition to the provision for higher penalties, includes the provisions for suspension or cancellation of registration. This promotes consistency and discourages habitual or repeated contraventions.
The inclusion of an appeal mechanism provides individuals or entities the opportunity to challenge penalties or decisions. This ensures a fair and transparent process and safeguards against potential abuse of power.
The definition of common terms in the cable industry, like “platform services” and “local cable operator” have been defined in the rules for the first time to bring about uniformity in their usage.