NBA issues guidelines for the coverage of the impending Ayodhya verdict

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | September 24, 2010
The Ayodhya judgement is due. Therefore, NBA has asked broadcasters to take extra care in the telecast of news relating to the judgement

The much talked about Ram Janm Bhoomi-Babri Masjid case verdict is due. And to ensure that broadcasters take extra care in the telecast of news related to the sensitive matter, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has issued a fresh set of guidelines, which news channels must strictly adhere to, while reporting on the judgement.

The NBA has stated that any violation of the guidelines may attract strict action from the association.

The guidelines say, "The powerful and wide impact of the information disseminated by the electronic media on formation of public opinion makes it incumbent on the broadcasters to take extra care in the telecast of news relating to sensitive matters. And the Ayodhya issue is one such matter, in which extra care is necessary to ensure that the telecast of any news relating to it should not be sensational, inflammatory or provocative."

News channels have been asked to make sure that all news related to the verdict should conform strictly to serving the public interest of maintaining communal harmony, and should influence the formation of "correct" public opinion.

NBA further stresses that keeping the ultra sensitive nature of the Ayodhya issue in mind, the reporting of the High Court judgement on the Ayodhya case requires adherence to the code of ethics and certain specific guidelines issued from time to time, in addition to recent guidelines issued. "It is, therefore, necessary that the broadcasters not only ensure rigid compliance of the earlier guidelines, as well as these guidelines; but also ensure that no occasion should arise for any speculation about the accuracy of the content," says NBA.

Apart from these, NBA has issued an additional set of specific guidelines to be observed in relation to the telecast of the Ayodhya case. It says that all news coverage related to the High Court judgement on the case should be a "verbatim reproduction" of the relevant part of the judgement, which is not influenced by any opinion or interpretation of the channel or some other body.

Another aspect that broadcasters need to take care of is to avoid any speculation on the judgement before it is pronounced; neither should there be any speculation on its likely consequences, which may be sensational, inflammatory or provocative. No footage of the demolition of the Babri Masjid is to be shown in any coverage related to the judgement. Also, the channels will have to refrain from showing visuals depicting celebration or protest related to the verdict.

In view of the sensitivity of news reporting on this issue, extra care should be taken to ensure accuracy, by verification and clearance at the highest editorial level, the guidelines state.

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