News Broadcasting Standards Authority lays down do’s and don’ts for covering sexual assault cases

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SummaryThe News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), an independent body set up by the News Broadcasters Association, on Monday issued guidelines

The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), an independent body set up by the News Broadcasters Association, on Monday issued guidelines on reportage of sexual assault cases by news channels.

It asked news channels to ensure that visuals of sexual assault and witnesses to such acts are not aired without concealing their identities.

It also asked news channels to exercise “discretion” and “sound judgement” while disclosing the details of sexual assault as it may “re-traumatise” the victims.

“While reporting on cases of sexual assault on women, victims of child abuse and juvenile delinquents, to respect their privacy, the name, photograph and other details that may lead to disclosure of their identity or that of the family shall not be broadcast or divulged,” the NBSA said.

It advised channels to “carefully balance” the survivor’s “right to privacy” and that of the survivor’s family with “public interest” while reporting on matters of sexual assault.

The body, headed by former Supreme Court Chief Justice J S Verma, reminded news channels that “news coverage of crime influences the mindset of the viewer and has a significant impact on the public perception of such crime.”

The NBSA guidelines come days after the Delhi Police registered a case against Zee News channel for carrying an interview of the friend and the lone eyewitness of the Delhi gangrape victim. The case was registered under Section 228 A of the IPC, which pertains to the disclosure of the identity of a victim of certain offences, including rape.

The authority noted that “sexual assault” would mean and include all forms of unwelcome sexually-determined behaviour, whether directly or by implication, like “physical contact and advances, including eve-teasing and molestation, a demand or request for sexual favours, sexually-coloured remarks, showing pornography, acid attacks or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.”

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