Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

What is the News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NBDSA

Mains level: Not Much

The NBDSA has fined the news channel for turning a news debate on hijab into a “communal issue” and not adhering to guidelines.

What is the News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA)?

  • The NBDSA is a self-regulatory agency set up by news and digital broadcasters.
  • It is an independent body set up by the News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA), which serves as a representative of private television news, current affairs and digital broadcasters.
  • It describes itself as “the collective voice of the news, current affairs and digital broadcasters in India.”
  • Funded entirely by its members, the NBDA has 26 news and current affairs broadcasters (comprising 119 news and current affairs channels) as its members.
  • Various senior members of Indian media organisations serve on its Board of Directors.

Composition of the NBDSA

  • The body includes a Chairperson who is to be an eminent jurist, and other members such as news editors, and those experienced in the field of law, education, literature, public administration, etc.
  • They are to be nominated by a majority of the Board.
  • Former Supreme Court judge and jurist AK Sikri is currently serving as the Chairperson.

Functioning of NBDSA

  • Within this structure, it lays-down and foster high standards, ethics and practices in news broadcasting, including entertaining and deciding complaints against or in respect of broadcasters.
  • These standards mention a focus on objectivity, impartiality, maintaining discretion when reporting on crime against women and children, not endangering national security, etc.

Powers and authorities

  • NBDSA may initiate proceedings on its own and issue notice or take action in respect to any matter which falls within its regulations.
  • This can also be through complaints referred to the Authority by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting or any other governmental body, or by anyone else via its website.
  • A “two-tier” procedure is in place for redressing grievances, where any person aggrieved by the content of any broadcast is required to first make a complaint to the concerned broadcaster and then the Authority if dissatisfied.

Why was the channel fined?

  • The NBDSA held that the programme was in violation of the principles relating to impartiality, neutrality, fairness and good taste and decency.
  • It said that it did not have any problem with the subject but with the narrative of the debate.


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