NBA condemns fake stings, warns govt against undue intervention

NEW DELHI: For the first time since the Uma Khurana sting, in which the school teacher was shown getting girl students into prostitution, the News Broadcasters Association has openly denounced the fake sting in partucular and similar attempts, if any.

In a press statement signed by NBA Secretary General Annie Joseph, the organisation has, however, also expressed concerns about the government's role in news media.

"The recent sting operation aired by TV channel Live India and events following it have raised substantial and serious issues.

"The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) unequivocally condemns any attempt by anyone to fabricate news and to attempt to gain popularity at the cost of journalistic integrity. Such acts risk discrediting television news, and indeed the news media, as a whole," the statement says.

However, it adds that this does not mean that sting operations are wrong in principle. The NBA believes that sting operations are a legitimate journalistic tool and means of investigation, but like all powerful tools they have to be used with care and responsibility.

"However, the NBA continues to question the role of government in media.

"Regrettably, the present instance is only the latest in a series of government interventions in media content in the recent past, including several cases of suspension of licensed TV channels. In each instance the key question left unanswered was how and by what process it was determined that there was an offence; and on what basis the penalty was determined.

"A free and independent media is the cornerstone of India's powerful democracy, and it behoves an elected government to support and strengthen that freedom.

"The NBA knows that with freedom comes responsibility, and respects the role of government in ensuring such responsibility.

"However, it also believes that to do so requires a transparent and codified process. Government intervention in news content without a transparent, codified process and basis is nothing short of censorship, and a threat to the freedom of the press – and in turn to the health of the democracy.
"In acknowledgement of the responsibility of the press, a committee of Editors of member channels of the NBA is framing guidelines for self-regulation for news and current affairs channels, for implementation at the earliest," the statement concluded.

However, it is notable that the NBA has not yet issued any statement on a national TV channel and powerful broadcaster group showeing the video of a former film starlet bathing in the nude inside a jail. That footage has been hauled up by the Supreme Court. NBA has so far offered no comments on that.

The NBA, in the meanwhile, is in the process of formulating its own Code of Content, a first draft of which is going to be circulated among the NBA members, with an attempt to involve all news channels across the country, to make it a national, standard Code that is enforceable.

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