In an unprecedented move, Indian TV news channels have drawn up a set of guidelines for media coverage of the birth of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's baby.
The Bollywood actor is expected to give birth to her first child in November, and the Indian media has followed her pregnancy obsessively ever since father-in-law and actor Amitabh Bachchan announced it in June.
In a surprising act of restraint, the Broadcast Editors' Association (BEA) has circulated ten-point guidelines, hoping to avert the inevitable media circus around celebrities in India.
The guidelines include no pre-coverage of the event, no “breaking news” ticker and no astrology story related to the birth.
Rai, 38, a former Miss World, has been married to actor Abhishek Bachchan for more than four years and the star couple had been fending off baby rumours for months before the pregnancy was confirmed in June.
Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of Times Now and BEA vice-president, downplayed the coverage issue.
“Aishwarya’s baby is not a big deal at all," Goswami told Reuters.
"It is just one of the many things that editors discuss."
The BEA guidelines also state no unofficial pictures of the child will be broadcast and that no television OB vans will be parked outside the Bachchan residence or the hospital where Aishwarya is expected to give birth.
India has dozens of 24/7 TV news channels, many of whom have been criticised for their high-pitched and melodramatic coverage.
The new chairman of the Press Council, a quasi-judicial body which acts as a press watchdog, recently criticised the media, saying it was acting against the interests of the people.
“Eighty percent of the people are living in horrible poverty, unemployment, facing price rise, healthcare," said Markandey Katju.
"You divert attention from those problems and instead you project film stars and fashion parades and cricket as if they are the problems of the people,” the former Supreme Court judge said in an interview to a TV channel.
Big B's tweets on the issue:
@SrBachchan: T 551 -HaHa ! Print MidDay asking if I have told I&B Ministry to block media news of Aish delivery ! Absolute rubbish ! Good try MDay !
@SrBachchan: T 551 - I&B and media matter ! Firstly I have no such intention ever, secondly do you really think I&B would listen to me !?? No way baby !
@SrBachchan: T 551 -But more interesting stuff coming in on this topic ! Apparently media has been told by I&B to not have OB Vans outside hospitals !
@SrBachchan: T 551 -That news came to me via a journalist .. so someone putting two and two together and making it Bachchan ... Ha ha ha !!
@SrBachchan: T 551 -But wait ! Yesterday journalist from electronic, sent me sms, which indicated that this decision was from the electronic media ..
@SrBachchan: T 551 - And the message from the journalist of electronic stated : " .. to respect ur family's privacy n women's dignity all tv news networks decided not to follow aishwarya's pregnancy or delivery. Not a single line news till official announcement. No camera's and OBs will be stationed at your place or hospital. Regards .."
@SrBachchan: T 551 - So who does one believe ? The self proclaimed etiquette and decency of the electronic, or the dictat of the I&B Ministry ???
@SrBachchan: T 551 - BUT ..!! No worries TwXmFt ! Every other day some ridiculous, malicious and completely false allegations are thrown at me ! Smiley !
@SrBachchan: T 551 -Some media took offense to my earlier tweets on the whole I&B matter and OB Vans .. sorted it out .. said sorry, they misunderstood !
@SrBachchan: T 551 - PHEW !! Relieved that media understood what I was saying ..and all is well in the States of the Four !!