Our 'code of ethics' should be made part of rules, binding on all news channels: NBA suggests to SC

PTI | Published: 20th September 2020 06:29 PM

NEW DELHI: The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has suggested to the Supreme Court that its "code of ethics" should be made part of statutory rules on cable TV by the central government to ensure it becomes binding on member and non-member news channels alike.

Taking note of the NBA's alleged inadequacy in regulating "hurtful" and "communal" contents in television programmes of news channels, the top court on September 18 had sought suggestions from it and the Centre to strengthen the association's self-regulatory powers.

A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud has been hearing a case of a lawyer seeking granting of pre-telecast ban on a programme called 'UPSC Jehad' of Sudarshan TV and it will hear the case on Monday again.

At present, the court has stayed the telecast of episodes which deal with alleged infiltration of Muslims in bureaucracy.

Annie Joseph, secretary general of the NBA, has filed the affidavit in pursuance of the court's direction asking it to give suggestions as to how the self regulatory mechanism of the NBA could be strengthened and made more effective in regard to the electronic media.

The NBA said its code of ethics should be given a statutory recognition by making it a part of the Programme Code under the Cable TV Rules so that these codes become binding on all news channels.

The move will give official recognition and power to the regulatory body.

"This court may grant recognition to NBSA (News Broadcasting Standard Association) the 'independent self-regulatory mechanism' so that complaints against all news broadcasters, whether members of NBA or not, may be entertained by the NBSA and the orders passed by the NBSA would be binding and enforceable on all news broadcasters," Joseph said in her affidavit.

"Recognition to the NBSA would also strengthen the News Broadcasting Standard Regulation and the penalties mentioned therein could be made more stringent," the affidavit stated .

The self-regulatory body said that amenability to the NBSA mechanism should be made a term of the "uplinking/downlinking permission for news channels, and the orders made, if any, against any news broadcaster may be considered by the (information and broadcasting) ministry at the time of grant and renewal of such permissions".

The NBSA is currently headed by retired Supreme Court judge A K Sikri.

Earlier, the bench had said it was against the practice of courts granting pre-telecast injunctions on shows and that such orders are a "nuclear missile" and hence, the self-regulatory mechanism needed to be strengthened.

It had also questioned Sudarshan TV over its 'Bindas Bol' programme, the promo of which had claimed that the channel would show the "big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service".

The bench had asked whether media can be allowed to “target whole set of communities”.

Simultaneously, it had taken note of alleged inadequacy of self-regulatory mechanism of the NBA and had observed: "The NBA says that Sudarshan TV is not its member so it cannot do anything."

“NBA says they have a committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge. They can impose a maximum fine of Rs one lakh and this shows how toothless they are. But, the NBA is only for members, so Sudarshan News not being a member is not governed by the NBA," the bench had observed.

Tags : News Broadcasters Association code of ethics Supreme Court

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