NEW DELHI: The government has ordered the English news channel Al Jazeera to be taken off air for five days for repeatedly showing wrong map of India, where parts of Kashmir were shown in Pakistan, and even Lakshdweep Andamans Islands were omitted in case news bulletins.
This is in series of order where channels have been punished for violating the programme code. Earlier, the government had asked NDTV Good Times to go off air for one day early this month, Jai Hind Channel for one day on April 16 for showing programmes with obscene content. While another Gujarat based channel Satlon News TV channel has been asked to go off air for thirty days with effect from April 15 for showing a news item which showed nude visuals of a tv actor. TLC, a channel run by Discovery Communications, was also asked to go off air for one day April 9 for airing an show that had unedited sexual language.
In case of Al Jazeera, the inter ministerial committee that looks into the complaints against channels, said the channel has committed “cartographic aggression” and , recommended to the Information and Broadcasting ministry that the channel deserves to be given a “deterrent punishment for their misdemeanour”.
The Information and Broadcasting ministry in its order dated April 10 said the AL Jazeera channel should be taken off air on all platforms from midnight of April 22 to midnight of April 27.
In its order, the I&B ministry said that Al-Jazeera channel had in telecast of news reports on 24 July; 11, 22, 30 and 31 August, 7 and 24 September in 2013, and on 2 and 26 July, 3 and 15 August and 19 September in year 2014 carried wrong graphical map of India repeatedly.
After getting complaints of ministries own monitoring centre and Ministry of External Affairs, the matter was referred to Survey General of India. It was found that portion of Indian territory of Jammu & Kashmir (PoK and Aksai Chin) has not been shown as a part of lndian territory in some maps. In another map Lakshdweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands are also not shown in these maps.
In another report, parts of Jammu and Kashmir were shown as part of Pakistan, which violated Rule 6 (h) of the programme code related which says no content be carried in the cable services which affects the integrity of the nation. Al Jazeera was given a showcause notice on August 21, 2014.
The channel in its reply on 5 September 2014 contended that they followed their own style guide which says map of India must include Indian-Administered Kashmir, and any map of Pakistan should include “Pakistan-administered Kashmir."
“The channel always takes the Indian government concerns regarding Indian maps and boundaries issues very seriously and accordingly reviews all its India and Pakistan maps to ensure compatibility with recent official UN maps,” the Al Jazeera said in its reply quoted in the official order.
Among others, the IMC meeting was attended by Joint Secretary and Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and also by the Under Secretary of the same Ministry. The representatives of MEA informed the committee that they were interacting with the Al-Jazeera Channel for the last two and a half years on the issue of the telecast of wrong map of India but to no avail.
“The general view of the members of the committee was that the Al-Jazeera TV channel has conducted itself in a manner that tantamount to undermine the integrity of the nation.
“The IMC also noted that the channel had shown the maps of India with the same colour as was used for Pakistan; and it was not known as to what was the motive of the channel but it was enough to create confusion in the minds of the viewers as to the actual boundaries of these countries. Also, some maps of India were shown omitting Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands,” the ministry order said.