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Media advisory came to late !

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on May 26, 2022 with No Comments

Last week the Narendra Modi Government in India issued a strong advisory warning news organisations in India to refrain from publishing and transmitting any offensive, misleading or critical content which is violative of the relevant regulatory Act. Drawing attention to reporting on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, certain incidents in North-West Delhi and certain news debates, the advisory issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said, “It has been found that in the recent past several satellite TV channels have carried out coverage of events and incidents in a manner which appears to be unauthentic, misleading, sensational and using socially unacceptable language and remarks, offending good taste and decency, and obscene and defamatory and having communal overtones, all of which appear to be violative of the Programme Code and infringement of the provisions of sub-section (2) of Section 20 of The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.”

In connection with the reporting on the Russia-Ukraine war, the Indian  channels have been reporting in a hyper excited manner and using phrase  “Third World War”, and even going to the extent that “ a nuclear war was right at the corner”.  At times the reporting was not based on facts and was sensationalized to secure better viewing. The  government said it has been observed that channels have been making false claims and frequently misquoting international agencies/actors; using “scandalous headlines/taglines” that are completely unrelated to the news item, and many of the journalists and news anchors of these channels made fabricated and hyperbolic statements intending to incite the audiences.

Similarly, on the Jahangirpuri communal clashes and where Bulldozers were used to bring down houses a particular community,  the news anchors were not only over enthusiastic  in favouring in action of the government but also were seen covering the event while sitting in the bulldozer involved in the destruction; without having any concern whatsoever for those losing the roof on their head and for some their livelihood. The channels had provocative headlines and videos of violence that were capable of  inciting  communal hatred among the communities and disrupt peace and law and order.

The prime time debates on some of the channels have been using unparliamentary, provocative and socially unacceptable language, communal remarks and derogatory references which may have a negative psychological impact on viewers and may also incite communal disharmony and disturb the peace at large. The ministry observed about these debates, “Some are also found to be disrespectful, passing on insulting remarks or giving reference to the different religions or faiths or their founders.”

The government, therefore, expressed serious concern about the manner in which the television channels have gone about their operations in the matter of transmitting content and strongly advised them “to immediately refrain from publishing and transmitting any content which is violative of the aforementioned provisions of The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the rules thereunder”.

However the government and the ruling BJP have a lot to answer. How did the reporting reach such a dismal standards? Specially when the participants have been from its party. Some of the spokespersons of the ruling party have displayed the traits that now have been found as unacceptable. At times, the hate speech emitting from these channels have had their origin to the event organized by certain radical groups.  A three-day Dharam Sansad held in BJP-ruled Uttarakhand’s Haridwar last December had seen attendees give the vilest of hate speeches against Muslims, going as far as calling for their genocide.

In order to make the channels change their trends, the government and the ruling party will have to ensure that it brings a change its spokespersons, and ensure their conduct is at par with the  secular structure of the country.

 

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