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The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation

 

Source: IE

 

Context: Rajya Sabha passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023, which cracks down on film piracy along with changing how movies are certified by the censor board.

 

The background:

  • The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2019 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha proposing changes related only to film piracy.
  • This Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Information Technology, whose recommendations included age-based categories of certification.
  • The revised Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021 and the final version (2023 Bill) were drafted after consultations with industry stakeholders and the public.

 

About the 2023 Bill:

  • Introduced by the Ministry of I&B, the Bill seeks to amend the Cinematograph Act 1952.
  • The 1952 Act authorises the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to require cuts in films and clear them for exhibition in cinemas and on television/ refuse the exhibition of a film.

 

Why does the Cinematograph Act 1952 need amendments?

  • To harmonise the law with various executive orders, SC judgements, and other legislations like the Copyright Act, 1957 and the IT Act (IT) 2000.
  • To improve the procedure for licensing films for public exhibition by the CBFC, and
  • To expand the scope of categorisations for certification.
  • To curb the menace of piracy, there was a huge demand from the film industry to address the issue of unauthorised recording and exhibition of films, which is causing them huge losses (Rs 20,000 crore annually).

 

Salient featuresThe Cinematograph Act 1952The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023
Additional certificate categoriesUnder the Act, film may be certified for exhibition: without restriction (‘U’); without restriction, but subject to guidance of parents or guardians for children below 12 years of age (‘UA’); only to adults (‘A’), or only to members of any profession or class of persons (‘S’).The Bill adds certain additional certificate categories based on age. It substitutes the UA category with the following three categories to also indicate age-appropriateness: UA 7+, UA 13+ or UA 16+.

 

This is in line with the Shyam Benegal committee’s (2017) recommendations.

Separate certificate for television/other media Films with an ‘A’ or ‘S’ certificate will require a separate certificate for exhibition on television, or any other media prescribed by the central government.

 

 

The Board may direct the applicant to carry appropriate deletions or modifications for the separate certificate.

Unauthorised recording and exhibition to be punishableProvides for certain exemptions – use of copyrighted content without owner’s authorisation in case of reporting of current affairs, etc.In order to stop piracy, the Bill prohibits carrying out or abetting the unauthorised recording and unauthorised exhibition of films.

 

 

Exemptions under the Copyright Act 1957 will also apply to the above offences.

 

 

The above offences will be punishable with: imprisonment between 3 months and 3 years, and a fine between 3 lakh rupees and 5% of the audited gross production cost.

Validity of certificates For 10 yearsPerpetually/always valid
Revisional powers of the central governmentEmpowers the central government to examine and make orders in relation to films that have been certified or are pending certification.  The Board is required to dispose of matters in conformance with the order.Removes this power of the central government.

  

Significance of the Bill:

  • It will make the certification process more effective, in tune with the present times.
  • By comprehensively curbing the menace of film piracy, it will help in faster growth of the film industry and boost job creation in the sector.

 

Concerns:

  • OTT platforms out of the purview of the Bill: What if an uncut movie is broadcast on OTT?
  • Age-appropriate categories are self-regulatory: It places the onus on parents and guardians to determine if the material is appropriate for viewers of a particular age range.

 

Insta Links:

 The draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021