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Why would a PM need a dedicated channel?

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on April 13, 2019 with No Comments

Having shared limelight in India and abroad with tall claims of having transformed India one would have assumed forthcoming election a cake walk for him. But is Prime Minister of India Naarendra Modi not sure of his success in the Lok Sabha elections,the results of which will be declared on May 23rd? Are the image he projects, the charisma that he claims to have created, his machismo and the brilliant orator skills not good enough to get him back to the power. Recent happening suggest that Narendra Modi has realized that his ability to cast a spell on the voters in India requires some media assistance. A biopic being made on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to release on April 12 has hit the roadblocks as the Election Commission of India has righty said that any biopic of any political entity or any individual entity connected to it, which has potential to disturb level playing field during the election, should not be displayed in electronic media including cinematograph. In addition to his movie, the Prime Minister is depending a lot on “NaMo TV “– a television channel devoted to the prime minister. Its logo is PM Modi’s smiling façade. Ever since it went on air across cable and DTH networks last week, it has broadcast every campaign speech by Prime Minister Modi, live. Other programs on the channels are singing his praises too. The last thing that was expected of the Prime Minister. After all, much of the broadcast news media, in English and Hindi, already spends much of its time defending his government and criticising the Opposition. NaMo TV launched during the time when the model code of conduct is in force, has caught the election commission off guard and since then it has been the focal point of the debate surrounding misuse and abuse of the power of the incumbent party.  Election Commission of India has issued notice to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in order to determine the legal status of NaMo TV. There are two important questions that need to be answered by the authorities.  Does NaMo TV comply with the requirements under broadcasting law?; Does NaMo TV comply with the requirements under election law? Ideally, if the answer to either question is in the negative, then the channel must cease to operate with immediate effect.

When in 1984, bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan was contesting elections, the state owned TV channel –the was the only channel at that time in India had put a complete ban on the movies and song of the cinestar. And here, the authorities are not even aware of the having granted a permission to NaMo TV to air its programs.  The information and Broadcast ministry has told the Election Commission that NaMo TV is not a licensed channel but is a direct-to-home advertisement channel; on the other hand a leading DTH operator is reported to have first called it a “Hindi news service” and, later, said it was “a special service available to all subscribers-the content of the service comes from ruling party BJP. There are other TV channels that are owned by political parties, just to name a few Jaya TV, Kalaignar TV which also propagate the party line.  However, NaMo TV’s rapid clearances and violation of the code of conduct are the issue here. If authorities have been bypassed, then it is a serious violation of the authority that is rested with the government and the ruling party. And why would a Prime Minister need a dedicated channel to his speech that too during the election period. Had the government fulfilled its election promises, it would have not required this kind of unprecedented propaganda.


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