Regulators

Gujarat blacks out PTV

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For two months, the Indian government has dithered on the issue of a ban on the state-backed PTV. Within two days of the Gujarat riots, however, the state government has clamped down on the telecast of Pakistan TV, to prevent the spread of "misinformation".

Officials have been quoted as saying: "PTV is indulging in a gross disinformation campaign. Allowing the beaming of such programmes would be detrimental to the efforts to restore communal harmony." The channel has consequently been blacked out since Sunday to prevent any further biased news spreading in the strife-torn state.

The state government however has also not taken kindly to the Prannoy Roy-promoted NDTV's coverage of the situation and has responded with an arbitrary ban order on Star News from 2 March, using the state government's discretionary powers. The channel has been beaming images of violence on the streets of Gujarat, and commenting on the absence of police personnel in the most-affected areas. Terming it as "instigative" journalism, a piqued chief minister Narendra Modi reportedly told media, "A television channel has been showing inflammatory visuals and reporting inaccurately. According to a rule, no community should be named. One channel has been blatantly naming communities."

Roy has responded to the charges by saying: "As far as I know, all news channels and not just NDTV were asked to stop telecast on riots from Gujarat. However, that decision was never implemented and the telecast from there has been restored."

The chief minister has stuck to his guns maintaining that Star News has been showing provocative visuals and instigating people with reports of scant police presence on the streets of several cities in Gujarat.

It is still not clear though whether Modi's orders to ban Star News have been carried through.

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