The Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC) under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is tasked with identifying program code violations of private TV channels. For the last many months, the EMMC website is down. Now the government says that it is down because there is no programmer.
The Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC) website is down for many months now. In response to a grievance filed on the PG portal, the government says that the website is down because there is no programmer.
What is EMMC?
The EMMC was established in 2008 as a sub-ordinate office in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting with the exclusive task of monitoring content of private satellite TV channels and identifying violations of Programme Code and Advertising Code. As per what the government says, EMMC currently records and monitors around 600 TV channels. EMMC monitors and carries out a scrutiny of violations by electronic media in accordance with Codes framed under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995. EMMC puts out reports on violations along with the recorded clips to the Scrutiny Committee, which examines and goes into the purported violations and forwards its findings to the Inter-Ministerial Committee and other bodies for further action.
EMMC disclosed violations following a CIC order
Though EMMC identifies thousands of violations, it had been ‘carefully’ hiding from public scrutiny, even basic information regarding these violations by various TV channels. Not many know that such an organization even exists.
‘Media Watch-India’, a nonprofit campaigning for decency and accountability in Media made a request under RTI act in 2012 to disclose and publish the details of violations by various private TV channels on EMMC website in terms of section 4 of RTI act. However, Director, EMMC squarely rejected the plea without citing any reason.
Based on a complaint by ‘Media Watch-India’ (MWI), Central Information Commission (CIC) directed Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC) in March 2015 to publish the details of violations of Programme and Advertising Codes by private TV channels. Following this order, EMMC published the number of violations by TV channels. The number ran into thousands. Factly had earlier done a detailed report on these violations.
Action in only a handful of cases
Though the EMMC reports identifies thousands of such violations, action is taken by the Ministry in only a handful of cases. Action was initiated in 32 cases in 2013, 22 in 2014, 23 in 2015 and so on. In the year 2017, action was initiated in the case of only four TV channels.
Now the EMMC website is down
For the past many months, the EMMC website is not accessible. Factly had written to the government and also filed a grievance on the PG portal. The response of EMMC, though hilarious, highlights the pathetic state of affairs. In response to the grievance, the Deputy Director of EMMC, Parvathy Rahul mentioned that the EMMC website is down due to non-availability of programmer. The communication went onto say that EMMC will take steps to re-launch the website when a programmer is appointed for the purpose.
It’s very concerning to note that a government that prides on ‘Digital India’ is unable to maintain websites of its own organizations. It is also difficult to understand why the EMMC needs a programmer to maintain the website since the earlier version was developed & hosted by the National Informatics Center (NIC). This entire thing looks like an effort to hide violations from the public eye.