Objecting to the television coverage of the Ukraine-Russia conflict and last week's communal clashes in the district of North West Delhi, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Saturday, 23 April, issued a strong advisory to all private satellite channels to abide by the programme code laid down by the relevant laws.
“This Ministry has time and again issued advisories to the satellite TV channels granted permission under the Uplinking/Downlinking Guidelines of 2005/2011 for adherence to the Programme Code read with The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. Sub-section (2) of Section 20, inter alia, provides that the Central Government may, by order, regulate or prohibit the transmission or retransmission of any channel or programme, if it considers it necessary or expedient to do so in the interest of (i) sovereignty or integrity of India; or (ii) security of India; or (iii) friendly relations of India with any foreign State; or (iv) public order, decency or morality,” it said.
The ministry cited specific examples of "hyperbolic" statements by news anchors and “scandalous headlines/taglines” while reporting on the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
Similarly, on the recent incident in North West Delhi, the ministry said that the coverage by TV channels had elements disrupting the ongoing investigation process by airing "scandalous and unverified CCTV footages."
Violence was reported from North West Delhi's Jahangirpuri on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti on Saturday, 16 April. This was followed by a demolition drive in the area by the city's civic body.
The advisory also said that certain debates on TV channels on the incident in North West Delhi had “unparliamentary, provocative and socially unacceptable language.”
"It was also observed that in the news, some of channels broadcast debates having unparliamentary, provocative and socially unacceptable language, communal remarks and derogatory references which may have a negative psychological impact on viewers and may also incite communal disharmony and disturb the peace at large. Some are also found to be disrespectful, passing on insulting remarks or giving reference to the different religions or faiths or their founders," the advisory said.
“Having regard to the above, the government expresses serious concern about the manner in which the television channels have gone about their operations in the manner of transmitting content…,” the advisory added.
"The Government expresses serious concern about the manner in which the television channels have gone about their operations in the matter of transmitting content and are hereby strongly advised to immediately refrain from publishing and transmitting any content which is violative of the aforementioned provisions of The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the rules thereunder," it further said.