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Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issues advisory to private satellite TV channels

In the recent past several satellite TV channels have carried out coverage of events and incidents in a manner which appears to be unauthentic, misleading, sensational, the Ministry said

Many of the journalists and news anchors of these channels made fabricated and hyperbolic statements intending to incite the audiences.
Many of the journalists and news anchors of these channels made fabricated and hyperbolic statements intending to incite the audiences.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued advisory to all private satellite channels for adherence to the provisions of Section 20 of The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 including to the Programme Code laid down thereunder. “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.

Similarly, sub-section (3) of Section 20 of the aforementioned Act, inter alia, empowers the Central Government to regulate or prohibit transmission/retransmission of a programme where such programme is not found to be in conformity with the prescribed Programme Code laid down thereunder. In particular, attention is invited to the following provisions of the Programme Code – Section 6: (1) No programme should be carried in the cable service which –offends against good taste or decency; contains criticism of friendly countries; contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes; contains anything, obscene, defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendos and half truths.

The Ministry further stated that it has, however, been found that in the recent past several satellite TV channels have carried out coverage of events and incidents in a manner which appears to be unauthentic, misleading, sensational and using socially unacceptable language and remarks, offending good taste and decency, and obscene and defamatory and having communal overtones, all of which appear to be violative of the Programme Code and infringement of the provisions of sub-section (2) of Section 20 of the aforementioned Act. In particular, attention is invited to reporting on Russia-Ukraine conflict, certain incidents in North-West Delhi and of certain news debates.

In respect of reporting on Russia-Ukraine conflict, it has been observed as under. Channels have been making false claims and frequently misquoting international agencies/actors. Use of ‘scandalous headlines/taglines’ that are completely unrelated to the news item. Many of the journalists and news anchors of these channels made fabricated and hyperbolic statements intending to incite the audiences.

Similarly, on the recent incident in North-West Delhi, the coverage by the TV channels had the following elements – provocative headlines and videos of violence that may incite communal hatred among the communities and disrupt peace and law and order; disrupting the ongoing investigation process by playing scandalous and unverified CCTV footages; showing footages of a specific community thus aggravating the communal tensions; fabricated headlines sensationalising and giving communal colours to the actions of authority.

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. 

“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 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. The above may be noted for strict compliance,” the Ministry stated. 

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