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EGI demands withdrawal of ban on NDTV India; calls it reminiscent of India’s ’75 emergency period

NDTV ban pathankot EGI
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EGI demands withdrawal of ban on NDTV India; calls it reminiscent of India’s ’75 emergency period

According to a recommendation from The Information and Broadcasting ministry’s inter-ministerial committee, NDTV India is to be taken off air for 24 hours alleging that the news broadcasting channel revealed “strategically-sensitive information” while covering the anti-terror operations at the airbase in Pathankot earlier this year.

According to Hindustan Times, the committee found the channel guilty of violating the broadcast norms and relayed information that could affect national security.

The report said “…Such crucial information could have been readily picked by terrorist handlers and had the potential to cause massive harm not only to the national security, but also to lives of civilians and defence personnel.”

NDTV India had allegedly revealed details that were not included in the government briefing given during the attack, which include details of an arms cache, which are the ammunition stocked at the airbase, of fighter planes and MIGs.

During a siege violation, giving out specific details on the counter-terror operations or the area that is under attack violates the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015, which prevents channels from displaying coverage of anti-terrorist operations live.

However, according to a statement released by NDTV, they claim that their coverage was “sober” and whatever they broadcasted was already available in public domain in print, digital and social media – or not any different from information displayed by other news channels. They further added that it is shocking that they are being “singled out”, calling it a matter of “subjective interpretation”.

Now, the Editors Guild of India (EGI) has issued a statement which strongly criticises the ban and goes on to call it a “direct violation of the freedom of the media,” similar to the “harsh censorship imposed by the government [which was] reminiscent of the Emergency.” The guild has added that irresponsible coverage can also be dealt with legal provisions.

While his Union government, on Thursday, is trying to gag the media, on Wednesday, Narendra Modi himself reminded everyone about the dark days of India’s 1975 emergency – when civil liberties were largely curbed – saying, “Every generation must keep reflecting on the Emergency period in an unbiased manner so that no future political leader can even wish to commit the same sin.”

For showing an incorrect map of India, AL Jazeera was once kept off air for a period of five days. For similar violations, channels have been taken off air before; so far there have been 28 instances of this.

Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) has also asked for a report from NDTV, and told Hindustan Times that the content the channel had put out would be assessed alongside other media organisations before a conclusion is drawn.

Demanding a withdrawal on the ban, the EGI has released a statement saying:

Editors Guild of India EGI NDTV statement




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