10 years back the Indian broadcast media received a lot of flack for the way it covered the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Critical counter offensive operation details like the chopper landing over The Oberoi hotel were broadcast live by leading news channels of the country; this gave the terrorists an opportunity to prepare themselves. This got the industry bodies in the Indian broadcast space to introspect and rethink the way they cover critical events especially terror attacks.
Yesterday, in a tragic terror attack in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, 42 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel lost their lives. The Government of India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has released an advisory, instructing all private satellite TV channels covering such events to adhere to the guidelines issued in the advisory.
Here is what the advisory says:
On various occasions in the past, this Ministry has issued advisories for Private Satellite TV channels to broadcast content strictly in adherence to the Programme and Advertising Code as prescribed in the Cable Television Networks (Regulations) Act, 1995 and the rules framed thereunder.
In light of the recent terrorist attack, TV Channels are advised to be particularly cautious with regard to any content which:
(i) is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti national attitudes: and/or
(ii) contains anything affecting the integrity of the nation: and ensure that no such content is telecast which is violative of these Codes.
All private satellite TV channels are requested to ensure strict compliance of the above.
This is not the first time the MIB has issued an advisory like this. After the 2015 Gurdaspur terror attacks, the MIB issued a warning that read: "No programme shall be carried in the cable service which contains live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces, wherein media coverage shall be restricted to periodic briefing by an officer designated by the government till such operation concludes."
Apart from warnings and advisories, the MIB, in the recent past, has issued multiple show cause notices to various news channels asking them to explain their coverage of terror attacks and counter terrorism operations. In 2016, the MIB invoked its power under the Cable TV (Regulation) Act and announced: "(The MIB) orders to prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of NDTV India channel for one day on any platform throughout India with effect from 00:01 hrs on 9th November, 2016 till 00:01 hrs of 10th November, 2016".
As per the Ministry, this step against NDTV's Hindi news channel was taken after the government's inter-ministerial committee found the channel guilty of revealing "strategically sensitive and crucial information" during the coverage of the Pathankot terrorist attack.
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