Govt to set up coordination committee with news broadcasters

NEW DELHI: Clearly alarmed by the cascading effect of what it terms as the unending coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks, the Government today decided to set up a coordination committee with broadcasters to ensure some self-regulation to ensure balanced coverage.

In a meeting with broadcasters presided over by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting and External Affairs Anand Sharma, the broadcasters were told that their continued coverage was having a negative effect and also affecting tourism and civil aviation sectors.

Sharma said that while the media in the country was free, it should exercise this independence with restraint and responsibility.

Interestingly, industrialist and hotel magnate Ratan Tata is understood to have informed the Minister that many people are canceling their bookings in the Taj Hotel in Mumbai because of the repetitive showing of the scenes of the Hotel tower burning.

Apart from I&B Secretary Sushma Singh and other officials of the Ministry, secretaries of the Ministries of Home (Internal Security), Tourism, and Civil Aviation were present.

The 20 broadcasters present included TV Today promoter Aroon Purie and Aaj Tak news director QW Naqvi, CNN-IBN and IBN7 editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai, NDTV managing editor Barkha Dutt, India TV chairman Rajat Sharma and Zee Group's Jawahar Goel.

The meeting comes even as news broadcasters are still to react on an advisory issued last week on the continual coverage of the terrorist attack in Mumbai.

In addition, notices had been issued to India TV and Aaj Tak to the effect that the channel’s coverage was creating public panic. India TV had thereafter sent its reply to the Ministry.

Aaj Tak had been accused of acting in a manner that may affect ’the integrity of the country’.

One broadcaster described the meeting as routine and said it was the third meeting in the last two weeks.

The news broadcasters still appear to be divided on their reaction to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s advisory to all news channels not to carry on with the coverage of the Mumbai attacks by showing the same clips which were now several days old and which only created panic.

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