In the new definitive rules for television news channels, restrictions have been imposed on showing superstition or occult. Also “public interest” has been made the driving force for showing sting operations, besides restricting live telecast of distressing content.
Facing criticism for coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), a body of leading news channels, on Wednesday issued specific dos and don’ts for news channels based on the principle of “public interest” under 10 different categories. National security is an important aspect of the new guidelines.
“There should not be any need for any further regulation,” said former Supreme Court Chief Justice J.S. Verma, who heads the association’s ethics and standards authority that had drafted the regulations. “Self-regulation by the broadcasters, based on these guidelines, will be sufficient,” he added.
The guidelines covering news reportage — approved by editors of leading news channels like NDTV, CNN-IBN, India TV, Aaj Tak and Times Now — would be binding on all members of NBA.
“Viewers will have the choice to complain with the authority if they find content in violation of the regulations,” a NBA spokesperson said. The authority is already examining two complaints against broadcasters.
The comprehensive guidelines following an assurance from government to withdraw the draft Cable Television Network rules aimed at controlling electronic media will, however, have a limited impact. Only 30 news channels (mostly national) — of the total of about 180 — are members of NBA.
“A lot of regional news channels against whom people have lots of complaint are not covered,” said a I&B ministry official, admitting that the association has accepted most of the government’s suggestions on self-regulation.
The only addition in NBA’s regulation is five-point reporting guideline for covering incidents like 26/11. Channels have been advised to use discretion in reporting on operational methods used by perpetrators of serious offices against the state.