The controversy over the unprecedented decision of an inter-ministerial panel to take ‘NDTV India’ off air for a day refuses to die down with Essel Group chairman Subhash Chandra Goel saying that a lifetime ban should have been imposed on the channel. The Rajya Sabha member in a scathing attack on the channel concerned said he felt that even the court will berate it for playing with the country’s security. In a series of tweets, he also criticized those who were likening the incident with the “emergency” era. He alleged that during UPA tenure, the Centre was considering to slap a ban on ZEE channel. He also accused the intellectuals and Editors’ Guild of keeping mum then.
The inter-ministerial panel constituted by the I and B ministry had concluded that the channel ‘NDTV India’ had revealed crucial and “strategically sensitive” information when the terror attack on Pathankot IAF base was being carried out in January.
NDTV पर 1 दिवसीय प्रतिबन्ध नाइंसाफी है, यह सजा बहुत कम है! देश की सुरक्षा से खिलवाड़ के लिए उन पर आजीवन प्रतिबन्ध लगाना चाहिए था (1/5)
— Dr. Subhash Chandra (@subhashchandra) November 6, 2016
NDTV in its response to a show cause by the government has maintained that its coverage was “sober” and did not carry any information that had not been covered by the rest of the media, and was in the public domain.
“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. This first-of-its-kind 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,” the statement had said.
After NDTV India, the Government has also ordered that an Assam-based news channel be taken off air for a day, following the recommendations of a high level panel which felt it had “violated” programming guidelines on more than one occasion. An I&B ministry order dated November 2, has sought that the channel ‘News Time Assam’, be taken off air on November 9, for a day.