The Hindu Explains: NaMoTV, electoral bonds and The Mankad

What are the issues over NaMoTV, a channel dedicated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi?

The story so far: On March 31, NaMo TV made its début on Direct to Home (DTH) platforms, raising several questions about its identity, ownership and content. Opposition parties asked the Election Commission to take action as the channel was launched after the model code of conduct came into effect ahead of the Lok Sabha election. The Election Commission has sought an explanation from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

Why is it problematic?

As the identity and ownership of the entity is shrouded in mystery, it violates broadcasting norms and regulations governing the ownership of content providers. These norms fall under the categories of uplinking and downlinking policies that came into force in 2005 and that have been amended since. These policies lay the groundwork for channels that wish to uplink content through satellites and later downlink them to television-viewing homes. In this regard, there are channels that uplink from outside the country, such as the BBC and CNN, and downlink in India, for which permission is sought and licences are given by a clutch of government ministries that include the Ministries of Home and Information and Broadcasting. NaMo TV falls in a grey area.

What does that mean?

Well, DTH platforms claim that NaMo is a Value Added Service (VAS) that every DTH operator offers to its subscriber. For example, TATA Sky could offer a series of cookery shows or fitness programmes as add-on services to viewers for subscription. The number of VAS channels on offer varies from one DTH operator to another with as many as 35 VAS services made available.

Can VAS be live?

For want of specific guidelines, VAS can be live. Channels like Astha have often shown their Guru’s spiritual discourses live. NaMo TV goes live with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rallies.

Is VAS paid for?

Technically, the DTH operator is paid by those who wish to show their content on the DTH platform. The carriage fee for content on DTH platforms for VAS is between ₹1 lakh and ₹2 lakh and is negotiable.

Why is the Oppn. upset?

As it is the platform of the ruling party’s leader, it gives an unfair advantage to the BJP. Traditionally, time is allotted for propaganda/advertising on government channels: All India Radio and Doordarshan. There are other issues. If NaMo TV is the BJP mouthpiece, it will have to declare it as an election expenditure to the Election Commission.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 12:01:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/what-are-the-issues-over-namotv-a-channel-dedicated-to-prime-minister-narendra-modi/article26757213.ece

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