The Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Monday cautioned the television channels against airing disturbing footage and distressing images, stating that it was a violation of the Programme Code.
The Ministry asked the TV channels not to report incidents of accidents, deaths, and violence, including crimes against women, children and elderly, in manners that grossly compromised on “good taste and decency”.
The advisory has been issued after several instances of lack of discretion by television channels were noticed by the Ministry.
“...Television channels have shown dead bodies of individuals and images/videos of injured persons with blood splattered around, including women, children and elderly being beaten mercilessly in close shots, continuous cries and shrieks of a child being beaten by a teacher shown repeatedly over several minutes,” it said.
The gory visuals were shown in loops “thereby making it even more ghastly, without taking the precaution of blurring the images or showing them from long shots”.
Stating that the manner of reporting such incidents was distasteful and distressing for the audience, the Ministry said those reports could also have an adverse psychological impact on the children.
“There is also a crucial issue of invasion of privacy which could be potentially maligning and defamatory,” it said, adding that in most cases the videos were being taken from social media and broadcast without editorial discretion and modifications to ensure compliance and consistency with the Programme Code.
Listing 12 instances, the Ministry said on December 30 last year, distressing images and videos of cricketer Rishabh Pant, who was injured in an accident on his way from Delhi to Roorkee, were broadcast without blurring them.
On August 28, 2022, certain TV channels had shown disturbing footage of a man dragging the dead body of a victim, also focusing on the face of the victim with blood splattered around.
In yet another incident, on July 6, 2022, the video clip of a teacher brutally thrashing a five-year-old boy until he lost consciousness in a coaching classroom in Patna, Bihar, was used. “The clip was played without muting it, in which painful cries of the child begging for mercy can be heard and was shown for over nine minutes,” said the Ministry.
While on June 4, 2022, gory images of the dead body of a Punjabi singer were shown without blurring, TV channels broadcast on May 25 last year the video of a man beating two minor boys with a stick in Assam’s Chirang.
The footage of a woman advocate being brutally assaulted by her neighbor at Bagalkot in Karnataka was shown on May 16; that of a man hacking his sister to death in Tamil Nadu’s Rajapalayam on May 4; and of a man being hung upside down from a tree and brutally thrashed with sticks by five people in Chhattisgarh’s Bilaspur was aired on May 1 last year.
Four other cases related to the death of five people in an accident; a man attacking his 84-year-old mother in Kollam (Kerala); an old man setting his son ablaze in Bengaluru; and a 14-year-old boy being beaten in the Morigaon district of Assam
The advisory stated that TV being a platform usually watched by families in households placed “a certain sense of responsibility and discipline among the broadcasters, which have been enshrined in the Programme Code and the Advertising Code”.