The Centre has asked television channels to use “shots of Cauvery river and security forces” and avoid live telecast or file shots of violence in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka hit by rioting over a water-sharing order.
The information and broadcasting ministry on Tuesday also asked broadcasters to verify facts before going ahead with a telecast on the Cauvery dispute that has left two people dead and shut down the country’s IT hub of Bengaluru.
“Certain TV channels have been telecasting provocative and inflammatory news and programmes… These could further ignite tensions and could cause the law and order situation in both the affected states to deteriorate,” the advisory said.
“Telecast of live or file shots of violence or rioting may be avoided. Reportage may use shots of Cauvery river and security forces.”
Riots broke out after the Supreme Court on Monday ordered Karnataka to divert some water from Cauvery to Tamil Nadu.
Social media posts and local television channels playing the visuals of violence on loop could feed public anger, information and broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, urging the media to play a constructive role in ensuring peace.
It is not unusual for the government to issue such advisories but it has, so far, not come out with one for Kashmir where 80 people have died in street protests that continue for the third month.
TV channels have to comply with a code that prohibits transmission of content likely to disturb peace.
NK Singh, general secretary of the broadcast editors’ association, said the guidelines were not mandatory but broadcasters adhere to them in public interest.
“If the advisory is in consonance with democratic and media freedom and comes at a time when public tranquility is disturbed, broadcasters adhere to it,” he said.
These guidelines were also issued after the 26/11 Mumbai attack during which terrorists were alerted about the presence of security forces by their handlers in Pakistan, who were watching the proceedings live on TV.
In 2015, the ministry issued show-cause notices to ABP News, NDTV 24×7 and Aaj Tak for their coverage of the Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon’s hanging. The channels were accused of breaching regulations laid down in the cable TV networks act.
A similar notice was issued to Hindi news channel NDTV India early this year. The government said its coverage of the Pathankot airbase terror attack violated the ban on live coverage of anti-terrorist operations.