NEW DELHI: The Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) has expressed its “dismay” over the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting issuing showcause notices to three TV channels on the “questionable pretext” that their coverage of Yakub Memon’s hanging amounted to contempt of the President of India and the judiciary.
“The BEA has decided to take up the issue with the government,” said a statement from the apex body of the editors of news channels in the country.
The ministry has asked ABP News, Aaj Tak and NDTV to explain within 15 days why action shouldn’t be taken against them for allegedly showing disrespect to the President, who had rejected the Mumbai blasts convict’s mercy plea, in their “inappropriate” coverage “which could have even led to communal disharmony”.
The BEA held a meeting of its executive committee to counter the government move. “The BEA expressed concern over the apparent tendency among governments, both at the Centre and in some states, to serve notices on media organisations in a selective manner,” it said.
The Electronic Media Monitoring Centre, which monitors the content of around 600 TV channels, had detected that two of these channels had telecast a phone-in with fugitive gangster Chhota Shakeel, a close aid of terrorist-gangster Dawood Ibrahim. The other channel is learnt to have telecast the remarks of Memon’s lawyer.
As per the Sections under which showcause notices have been issued, TV channels shouldn’t telecast anything which casts aspersions on the integrity of the President and the judiciary. Programmes which are likely to encourage or incite violence, promote “anti-national attitudes” or contain anything against the maintenance of law and order are also liable to be banned.
The BEA also expressed concern over the newly amended Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015, which limit the media coverage of counter-terror operations to “periodic briefings” by an officer till such operations conclude.
Arguing that news coverage can’t be limited to official briefings, the BEA said there were enough self-regulatory guidelines regarding the coverage of terror incidents.
The body also decided to take up the defamation notices issued by Rajasthan government to Times Now and the privilege proceedings initiated by the UP Assembly against Aaj Tak.