Regulators

TV channels urged not to air live coverage of anti-terror ops

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NEW DELHI: The Government has advised all television channels in public interest to safeguard innocent lives, to ensure that no operations-linked information reaches the terrorists and their handlers, and in the interest of national security, live coverage of counter-terrorism operation by the security forces should not be telecast.

The advisory was placed on the site of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

Earlier this month, Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore had told Parliament that the government was considering a proposal to prohibit live media coverage of counter terrorism operations by security forces and the Home Ministry wanted amendments in the extant laws in this regard.

After the carnage in November 2008, the Ministry on 27 November, 2008, 3 December, 2008 and 20 November, 2009 had issued such advisories in public interest and in the interest of national security not to focus on or report the location, strength, movement, strategy and other related operations being followed by the Security forces engaging with the terrorists so as to avoid any adverse impact on rescue operations.

The advisory was issued as the Ministry said it had come to its notice that some TV channels have covered live the ongoing anti-terrorist operations on 20 March, 2015.

The advisory says that the media coverage may be restricted to periodic briefing by an earmarked official till the operation is concluded.

Attention was drawn to clauses 5.9 and 8.1 of the Uplinking guidelines and Clauses 5.8 and 6.1 of the downlinking Guidelines as well as applicable provisions of the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 and Rules thereunder in this regard.

The issue of coverage by television channels is presently part of the self-regulation guidelines drawn up by the News Broadcasting Standards Authority of the News Broadcasters Association. The Press Council of India had issued similar guidelines with regard to print media.

These guidelines were drawn up after the 26 November, 2008 attacks in Mumbai. Following a controversy that live telecasts of the counter-terrorism operations were in all likelihood been seen by the masterminds in Pakistan who had planned the attacks.

As far as Prasar Bharati is concerned, it is governed by the Programme and Advertising Code, which is also part of the 1995 Act and therefore equally applicable to private television channels. The Inter-Ministerial Committee examines complaints under the Act of 1995 and the Rules drawn up a year earlier in 1994.

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