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Emergency protocol for media coverage of crises

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | December 12, 2008
The I&B ministry, the NBA and television broadcasters are agreed on the need for such a protocol, which will come into being in a week's time

While & #BANNER1 & # it is true that the electronic media covered the recent Mumbai terror attacks very extensively, it is also true that the extent of the coverage and the details revealed publicly on television raised serious concerns, one of them being about citizens' safety.

Responding to these concerns, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B), the News Broadcasting Authority (NBA) and television broadcasters held a meeting on December 11 to discuss an emergency protocol for media coverage of crisis situations and sensitive military operations.

An authority set up by the NBA under the chairmanship of Justice (Retd) JS Verma, a former chief justice of India, will now work to create an emergency protocol for news channels in situations akin to 26/11. The emergency protocol is expected to roll out within a week.

Though guidelines for self-regulation exist for broadcasters, they are not very effective. Annie Joseph, secretary general, NBA, informs afaqs!, "The dos and don'ts of this emergency protocol will be more elaborate than the guidelines."

In fact, following 26/11 and its aftermath, broadcasters have reaffirmed to the NBA their commitment to strengthen self-regulation.

In a meeting convened by Anand Sharma, minister of state for information and broadcasting, the government appreciated the self-regulation and redressal regulations adopted by the NBA for its members. Sushma Singh, secretary, I&B ministry, reiterated the government's stand that the first level of regulation would always vest with the broadcasters.

The meeting was attended by Sameer Manchanda, joint managing director, GBN; KVL Narayan Rao, executive director and group chief executive officer, NDTV; Chintamani Rao, CEO, Times Now; Aroon Purie, chairperson, TV Today Network; Jawahar Goel, president, Indian Broadcasting Foundation; Barun Das, CEO, Zee News; Anurradha Prasad, managing director, News24; Rajat Sharma, chairperson, India TV; Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief, CNN IBN; QW Naqvi, news director, TV Today Network; Barkha Dutt, group editor (English news), NDTV; NK Singh, political editor, ETV; Govindraj Ethiraj, editor-in-chief, UTVi; Shazi Zaman, editor, STAR News, and Annie Joseph, secretary general, NBA.

afaqs! tried contacting several broadcasters for their views on the protocol, but most of them were either unavailable or declined to comment. "All the broadcasters have jointly decided to not talk about the protocol and, respecting that decision, I can't share any information," Rajat Sharma told afaqs!

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