The Information & Broadcasting Ministry on Monday said that TV channels outlining the themes and manner in which programs will need to be telecast to meet the public service broadcasting norms. As per the new guidelines for uplinking and downlinking of TV channels in India, private broadcasters are required to undertake public service broadcasting for 30 minutes every day. These norms will become effective from March 31.

The Ministry clarified that such content need not be of 30 minutes at a stretch and can be spread over smaller time slots. “The time for which the Public Service Broadcasting content is telecast in between commercial breaks shall not be accounted for the 12 minute limit for commercial breaks.

The time for such content shall be accounted cumulatively on a monthly basis ie. 15 hours per month,” it added. Stating the time for transmission of such content can be flexible, the Ministry added that any content transmitted from midnight to 6:00 AM shall not be accounted as Public Service Broadcasting.

Foreign channels downlinking in India will be exempt from the obligation of Public service Broadcasting. In addition, channels that telecast predominantly sports, devotional and spiritual and yoga content will also be exempted.

The theme for the broadcasting should comprise content of national importance and of social relevance such as education and spread of literacy; agriculture and rural development and health and family welfare among others.

Stating that broadcasters have the liberty to modulate their content, the advisory added that such content can be shared between the Broadcasters and could be repeat telecast on one or several TV channels. “A common e-Platform may be developed as a repository of relevant videos or textual content from various sources for the purpose of Public Service Broadcasting, which may be accessed and used by TV Channels,” the advisory stated.

“The broadcaster shall keep the record of the content telecast for a period of 90 days. Electronic Media Monitoring Centre, under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, shall keep the record of the content telecast for a period of 90 days,” it added.

Earlier broadcasters had expressed concerns regarding these norms. However, the Ministry said the advisory was finalised after industry consultations.