Editors and news broadcasters on Friday slammed the government’s one-day ban on NDTV India. THE EDITORS GUILD OF INDIA (EGI) and the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) issued statements condemning the Information and Broadcasting ministry order which accused the news channel of divulging “strategically sensitive” information on Pathankot terror attacks that took place in January this year.
“The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the unprecedented decision of the inter-ministerial committee of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to take NDTV India off the air for a day and demands that the order immediately rescinded. The decision to take the channel off the air for a day is a direct violation of the freedom of the media and therefore the citizens of India and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency.”, the EGI said in a statement.
The NBA said, “we are deeply concerned with the decision taken by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MoI&B), to prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of NDTV India channel, a national channel, for one day on any platform throughout India”.
A letter dated November 2, 2016, was served to the news channel asking it to go off air with effect from 00:01 hrs on November 09, 2016 till 00:01 hrs on November 10, 2016. It stated that an inter-ministerial committee was of opinion that the channel’s coverage had revealed the location and other valuable details related to the attack.
NDTV on Friday said through a statement that it has received the order. “It is shocking that NDTV has been singled out in this manner. Every channel and newspaper had similar coverage. In fact, NDTV’s coverage was particularly balanced. After the dark days of the emergency when the press was fettered, it is extraordinary that NDTV is being proceeded against in this manner. NDTV is examining all options in this matter”, it said.
The NBA which represents the private television news & current affairs broadcasters further said, “it is surprising to note that NDTV INDIA has been singled out by the IMC/ MoI&B, when the rest of the media also did cover the terror attack and all such reports were available in the public domain. The IMC and the MoI&B should have seen it from the prism of freedom of the media, which is guaranteed in the constitution and not gone strictly by the regulations under the Cable Act”.
The Editors Guild alleged that the order “to impose a blackout has seen the Central government entrust itself with the power to intervene in the functioning of the media and take arbitrary punitive action as and when it does not agree with the coverage. There are various legal remedies available to both a citizen and a state in the Court of Law to have action taken for any irresponsible media coverage. Imposing a ban without resorting to judicial intervention or oversight violates the fundamental principles of freedom and justice. The Editors Guild of India calls for an immediate withdrawal of the ban order”.