Make ethics code must for all news channels, broadcasters’ body tells Supreme Court

The News Broadcasters Association office in New Delhi. Photo:  

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has told the Supreme Court to make its code of ethics against airing malicious, biased and regressive content applicable to all TV news channels.

For this, the NBA suggested that the court direct the government to include its ethical code in the Programme Code of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994. All news channels, whether they are NBA members or not, will then have to follow the Programme Code containing the proposed amendments.

The NBA affidavit is in response to an order by the Supreme Court on September 18 to suggest measures to strengthen the self-regulatory mechanism to prevent or penalise airing of communal or derogatory content in the electronic media.

The order by a Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was in the background of a plea to stop the telecast of a programme 'Bindas Bol' on Sudarshan TV containing objectionable content against the Muslim entries into the civil services. The court said the content was prima facie “plainly hurtful” to the community. It is an affront to the dignity of the community. The court said NBA was “toothless” and it’s penalties hardly a deterrence for channels.

Also read: Suresh Chavhanke, Sudarshan News editor-in-chief, booked on charges of spreading communal hate

NBA said the News Broadcasters Services Authority (NBSA) should be granted recognition as an “independent self-regulatory mechanism” to receive and deal with complaints.

The orders passed by the NBSA should be made binding and enforceable on the channels. Recognition to NBSA would strengthen News Broadcasting Standards Regulations, the affidavit said adding that penalties should be made stringent.

Also read: Supreme Court stays Sudarshan TV show broadcast

Primarily, submission to the NBSA regulatory mechanism should be made mandatory for granting/renewal of uplinking/downlinking permissions by the government. The government should take into consideration any previous orders passed by the NBSA while granting or renewing uplinking/downlinking permissions.

Meanwhile, Sudarshan TV, in a separate additional affidavit, urged the court to vacate the stay on its programme. The channel said it will “trictly”comply with the Programme Code and directions of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The channel referred to NDTV’s 2008 broadcast of a programme anchored by Barkha Dutt on “Hindu Terror” showing a “Hindu Saint” with a tilak, chillam and a trishul. Sudarshan TV said it was “shocked and pained”. Another programme “Is Saffron Terror real” was also hosted by Ms. Dutt on NDTV in 2018. “In the said programme a Hindu cultural gathering was shown in saffron colour clothes,” the affidavit said.

The court is scheduled to hear the case on September 21.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 11:46:49 PM |

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