NaMo TV is a 24-hour channel exclusively featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches and pro-BJP content and was launched on various DTH and cable TV platforms. The channel is listed on some DTH platforms. However, no such channel is mentioned in the list of channels permitted by the I&B Ministry.
Opposition parties asked the Election Commission to take action as the channel was launched after the model code of conduct came into effect ahead of the Lok Sabha election. Subsequently, the Election Commission of India has issued notice to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The I&B Ministry has apparently told the Election Commission that NaMo TV is a ‘platform service’. It is A kind of “advertising platform” and claimed that it does not need government’s approval. As per the Constitution, legislative & executive power over ‘Posts and telegraphs; telephones, wireless, broadcasting, and other like forms of communication’ vests with the Union. All satellite-based channels require the ministry’s permission to be downlinked in the country irrespective of the content, or the platform it is available on. But the regulation allows the DTH platforms to offer its own value-added services, for which there is no licence required.
Issue with NaMo TV
1. Violation of poll code: NaMo TV was launched after the election code of conduct was in force.
2. Identity and ownership: There are no clarity over category of NaMo TV whether it is news channel or an add-on service offered by a direct-to-home (DTH) operator or an entertainment channel.
3. As Platform service: While platform services have traditionally been exclusive offerings by each DTH operator, NaMo TV is available across DTH operators in the country. Platform services were defined by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India during a consultation on them in 2014 as: “Platform services (PS) are programs transmitted by Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs) exclusively to their own subscribers and does not include Doordarshan channels and registered TV channels. PS shall not include foreign TV channels that are not registered in India.”
4. Highlight loopholes in regulatory framework: There is no legal architecture covering ground operations of local cable operators or multi-system operators. NaMo TV broadcast feed available to the world via satellite without going through the process of acquiring a broadcast license highlight the loophole.
5. DTH operator’s accountability: NaMo TV is running across many networks. It is alleged that DTH operators are taking benefits of loopholes in regulatory framework, as there is no law for platform service yet.
NaMo TV highlight the loopholes in regulatory framework through which broadcast feed available to the world via satellite without going through the process of acquiring a broadcast license. The government must bring a legal architecture covering platform services and local cable operator’s operation.