National

First instance of gag after 2015 revision of code

Why was NDTV Ltd. served with an order to take its Hindi channel, NDTV India, off the air from midnight of November 9 to midnight of November 10?

An Inter-ministerial Committee (IMC) comprising joint secretaries Home, Defence, I&B, Health and Family Welfare, Consumer Affairs, Law and Justice, External Affairs, Women and Child Development and representative of the Advertising Standards Council of India, found the channel to have violated the provisions of the programme code, specifically, clause 6 (1) (p) of the code, in its coverage of the Pathankot terrorist attack on 4.01.2016.

This clause says no programme shall telecast live coverage of anti-terrorist operation by security forces; the coverage will be restricted to periodic briefing by designated officer.

When was the clause added?

In June 2015, the BJP-led NDA government added 6 (1) p to the Programme Code.

What is the programme code which news channels and entertainment channels are directed to follow?

The Programme and Advertising Code of the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994, has been incorporated in the Cable Act, and is taken from the content code governing All India Radio (AIR), which in turn has been framed around the restrictions to free speech under 19 (2) of the Constitution. Clause 6 (1) (p) was added in June 2015 to the code.

Is it the first time that a news channel has been served with such an order?

Yes. This will be the first such instance since the programme code was amended by the BJP Government to include restrictions on the live telecast of terror operations.

Was NDTV India the only channel to violate this code in its Pathankot coverage?

In its defence before the committee, NDTV has stated that other news channels and sections of media also reported the event as it unfolded.

Did the channel’s reportage endanger the security of the country?

In its report, the IMC has “apprehended” that the information aired on the channel had the potential to change the very course of operations and would have caused destruction of unimaginable proportions.

Can NDTV India appeal against the Inter-ministerial committee order?

Yes, it can take legal recourse by appealing against the November 2 order.

Is the action against NDTV India a case of Government overreach?

Self-regulatory bodies like the News Broadcast Standards Authority (NBSA) set up by the news broadcasters association and the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC), headed by retired judges of the Supreme Court and High Court, regularly address complaints and transgressions of the programme code on receipt of complaints.

What are the powers of these self-regulatory authorities?

Both NBSA and BCCC have the power to issue advisories, censure, impose penalties and order channels off air if found to be in violation of the programme code governing entertainment and news. From censuring Times Now to other news channels, the NBSA’s orders are largely considered sacrosanct by news channels.


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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 9:04:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/First-instance-of-gag-after-2015-revision-of-code/article16437470.ece

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