Member of The Month OCTOBER 2009
- Jul 23, 2009
The home ministry has asked the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to tighten rules to ensure there is no live television coverage of anti-terror operations. To do so, it has sought to amend the Programme Code under the Cable Television Network Rules.
In a letter to the I&B ministry earlier this month, the home ministry noted that such live coverage in places like Jammu and Kashmir or elsewhere not only affects the secrecy and effectiveness of the operation but also puts the safety of journalists in jeopardy, government officials said. The I&B ministry is still to respond to the suggestion, one of them said.
After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks that were broadcast live on television, the National Broadcaster Association put out a set of rules including restriction on live reporting of terror situations, as part of a self-regulation exercise on the part of private broadcasters.
The home ministry is pressing now for more changes to the 15-point Programme Code prescribed under the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 for this specific purpose. The rules were amended in 2009 when private broadcasters were brought within the ambit of the Cable Television Networks Rules.
During the Mumbai terror strike, news channels had broadcast live images, including the moves by security forces, before the authorities intervened and stopped it. Live coverage of an NSG chopper operation at Nariman House was seen to be of particular concern to the government as it was revealed that the controllers of the terrorists sitting in Karachi were monitoring TV channels to guide the attackers.
At the time, the I&B ministry had issued directives to TV channels, asking them to exercise caution while covering terror incidents. In 2011, another advisory was issued pointing out that some TV channels telecast interviews with terrorists or terrorist groups, which the government said could help them to advance their political agenda.
It was also pointed out that such coverage would amount to violation of the provisions of the Programme Code. The Code so far mentions a broad category — that programmes that contain anything affecting the integrity of the nation shouldn't be carried in a cable service.