CHENNAI: Information and broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu has indicated that the Union government decided to put the squeeze on NDTV India because it was ‘unrepentent’ about its coverage of the Pathankot terror attack in January this year.
The news channel has been ordered off the air on Nov. 9 for what the government says is a breach of the broadcast guidelines in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. The government contends that NDTV India’s coverage gave out sensitive details of the anti-terror attack and could have aided the terrorists.
“The action (to pull the channel off the air for one day) was recommended so the channel cannot get away completely for being unrepentant in the matter,” Naidu said in Chennai today. Venkaiah Naidu’s defence is that the TV channels ought to stick to the briefing given by official spokesmen during an anti-terror operation.
“The government issued a gazette notification requiring TV channels to limit live coverage of anti-terror operations to the briefings of designated officers. NDTV India violated this provision and was found to be unrepentant on what they have done.” said Naidu. Venkaiah Naidu’s also rejected the Editors Guild’s suggestion that rather than a clamp a one-ban ban on the channel, the government ought to have approached the courts.
The information minister’s defence to this was that “under Sub-section (2) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, the Union government is required to regulate or prohibit transmission of any channel or programme in the interest of sovereignty, integrity and security of India and as per para 8.1 of Uplinking Guidelines is empowered to take action for transmitting any objectionable content inconsistent with public interest.”
Citing precedent, he said television channels have had to go off the air in 21 instances, for a period ranging from one day to two months for showing obscene visuals including 13 cases of telecasting adult-rated films.