DELHI: The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), the
self-governance arm of News Broadcasters Association (NBA),
on Monday issued fresh guidelines barring news channels from
revealing any information that divulges the name, photograph
and other details of victims of sexual assault and child abuse
and juvenile delinquents.
guidelines also bar disclosure of the identity of the witnesses
to such incidents.
a new set of Guidelines on Reportage of Cases of Sexual Assault,
the NBSA, chaired by Justice J S Verma, said the fresh guidelines
were aimed at respecting the privacy of the victims.
guidelines have been issued amid controversy over the revelation
of the identity of the male companion of the 23-year-old Delhi
rape victim by a news channel. Both were brutally assaulted
by six persons in a moving bus on 16 December. A UK-based
newspaper has already revealed the identity of the victim
and also that of her father. The rape victim, who was a paramedic
student, succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital.
guidelines bars news channels from divulging the name, photograph
and other details that may lead to disclosure of the victim's
identity or that of the family, while reporting on cases of
sexual assault on women, victims of child abuse and juvenile
news channels must ensure that no victim of sexual assault,
violence, aggression, trauma or a witness to any such acts,
is featured in any news report or programme relating to such
victim, without concealing the identity of such person. In
conformity with this principle, any visuals shown of the victim
must be completely morphed.
The Authority said news channels must bear in mind that news
coverage of crime influences the mindset of the viewer and
has a significant impact on the public perception of such
crime. 'In reporting on matters involving sexual assault,
news channels are advised to carefully balance the survivor's
right to privacy and that of the survivor's family with public
NBSA said the term "sexual assault", in addition
to any penal offenses prescribed in law, shall mean and include
all forms of unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether
directly or by implication) such as - (i) physical contact
and advances, including eve-teasing and molestation; or (ii)
a demand or request for sexual favours; or (iii) sexually
coloured remarks; or (iv) showing pornography; or (v) acid
attacks; or (vi) any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal
conduct of sexual nature.
The NBSA says news channels must exercise sensitivity, discretion
and sound judgment particularly when disclosure of details
of the sexual assault would only serve to re-traumatise the
survivor; and when details of the sexual assault are needed
to be disclosed to secure a safe environment.
News channels must take special note of the provisions of
Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code 1860 and of Section
21 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children)
Act, 2000 which provide for protection of the identity of
victims of sexual offences and of juveniles in conflict with
to the guidelines, editor of Zee News Sudhir Chaudhary told
indiantelevision.com that "Zee News is committed towards
showing utmost respect whenever new guidelines are issued
by honourable NBSA."
Chaudhary had issued a statement on the news channels decision
to carry the interview of the friend of the Delhi rape victim.
The statement is reproduced verbatim below:
are lot of mails and phone calls coming to Zee News and my
colleagues in Zee News editorial that we should tell the viewers
what happened in those two and a half hours in the bus and
why Zee News did not show that part of story when we interviewed
the witness? Most of the callers were sure that when we have
interviewed the person from the time the victim girl and he
were thrown out of the bus, thinking that both were dead,
we must have recorded the details which happened in the bus
as well. Why are we not showing that part?"
view of so many calls and angry messages, I want to tell the
true version to the viewers of Zee News, as well as the 670
million viewers of Zee network.
we started recording the interview with the eye witness, he
started telling us the story right from the time he and the
victim came out of the mall and their unfortunate journey
that began without knowing that their destiny is taking them
to disaster. He talked about how they got into the bus and
described the ambience in the bus, the dark glasses, the curtains
and the darkness in the bus. These details are there in the
interview we have telecast.
"He then started telling us the minute by minute account
of what happened in the bus and how he and the helpless girl
were struggling to defend themselves and how he was trying
to save her.
"I have to tell you all my friends and well-wishers,
which is YOU...
"It is because of you that my team, me and my company
exists. If you as a viewer will not give your time to watch
our channel we cannot survive. Hence you demanding the account
of what happened with the girl and the boy in the bus, is
"But dear viewers, I have to say that Zee News and the
entire Zee Network has always kept the country's dignity supreme.
We have been responsible rather than keeping a selfish motive
to make money as supreme. If we would have recorded and shown
the minute by minute account of what happened in those two
and half hour in the bus running on the busy roads of Delhi,
our viewership would have exceeded the viewership of the 26/11
attack in Mumbai.
"It would have been a bigger television show than the
attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001. You would have been
as ashamed as much as we have been in the recording studio
"As soon as the witness started telling the minute by
minute account, my team decided to switch off the cameras
and not take it on record so that we are not tempted to telecast
it. If we would have showed the details of the journey in
the bus and how this never before crime was committed, we
could have been rated the highest reality show amongst the
400 odd TV channels in India.
"We would have become the leaders in terms of TV ratings.
"But we would have also made the 121 Crore Indians feel
ashamed of themselves.
"We felt that it could have aroused emotions of the people
to the highest degree. We felt that it could have aroused
the anger in all of us to dangerous levels.
"We felt that both emotions and anger could have resulted
in a reaction like what happened when the Mandal Commission
report was implemented by the Late V P Singh Government, when
many young people set themselves on fire and died.
"Friends, that is why we did listen to the entire story
and the account of what happened in the bus and all of us
cried no end while listening. For the first time, I personally
felt ashamed. I have always believed that we in India have
the least police stations in the world as we have least crime
but the voice which was going to hit my ears has shattered
my belief. Hence we did not record this part of the story
and we did not do it due to the reasons I have just put before
"If you feel we have made a mistake, or we were wrong
you have the right to say so and feel so. We can still record
and show you the details of the terrible bus journey due to
which the late brave girl has woken up the nation. She has
warned all of us. She has asked us to change. She expects
all of us to be the agents of change and she wants that we
should first change ourselves. We should become as fearless
as she and her friend did in the entire two and a half hour
journey. It is only then that we can force change. We can
demand and change the kind of law makers we elect. It is only
when we are out of fear and favor that we can change the kind
of people that represent us within India as well as outside
"If we were selfish about getting more and more Television
Rating Points, we would have shown the entire account of the
gruesome incident. But Zee Network, Zee News, it's executives
and all the people who work with us are Indians first and
have always stood by India's self esteem and will continue
to do so. We are for Television Respect Points and not Television
Rating Points that everyone runs after and sensationalizes
"We are committed to do so without fear or favor. We
know that in the present time the level of tolerance to face
the truth has diminished all around. No one, I repeat, no
one can face the slightest of criticism. This is despite many
of them committing crimes and stealing public money and resources.
Yet they file defamation cases against the media whenever
the media tries to expose them.
"Today it is a well accepted fact that none of the people
running the system appreciates media, specially the online
and electronic media, as it is instant. A prominent Union
Minister is on record in one public function and while he
may have said it in other forums as well, but I quote from
the one where I heard it. He has said that the paralysis of
the government not functioning is not due to the UPA government
and UPA is not responsible, it is because of the CAG, the
Judiciary and the media.
"In this state of affairs, we at Zee News still continue
our resolve to bring to you our viewers, the Indians at large,
the decision makers and the civil society
The Truth. But what happened?
"We are being made villains by the Government
by the system
. by the police
by the so called intellectuals
you my friends are there as a mute spectators.
"Any way our matter is not so important as the issue
at hand, that of THE RAPE we are talking about.
"We will still face the atrocities of police, the system
and the government, as we have been facing for the last few
months including on Friday, when an FIR was logged against
Zee News and I being the final authority was interrogated
in a police station instead of being appreciated for being
a responsible and a respectable journalist and broadcaster.
"The complaints by us against the complainant of an FIR
filed earlier on Zee News Limited by an influential MP of
the ruling party, fell on the deaf ears of the Delhi Police.
"Yesterday's interrogation at the police station was
only directed towards "Do not show the truth which is
against the system" otherwise you will suffer and will
have to face police action and atrocities.
"Friends, if I have your support I will say "We
are and we will suffer such pains of the police raj. Though
it is painful and very painful for our families, our children,
but we feel these pains are far less than our elders who not
only suffered the pain but laid their lives so that we the
present generation could be liberated. They did give us freedom,
but they also must be wondering "Did they hand over the
Free India to the right people or the right system".