After NDTV India, the government has ordered that an Assam-based television news channel be taken off air for a day following the recommendations of a high-level panel that felt the channel had “violated” programming guidelines on more than one occasion.
An information and broadcasting ministry order dated November 2 has sought that the channel, ‘News Time Assam’, be taken off air on November 9.
One of the allegations against the channel relates to telecasting a programme that revealed the identity of a minor who had been brutally tortured while working as a domestic servant.
Observing that the visuals telecast by the channel appeared to have compromised the privacy and dignity of the child while exposing him to harm and stigma, a showcause notice was issued to the channel in October 2013.
After listening to the channel’s version, the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) that looked into the matter felt that the channel should be taken off air for a day.
According to the order, the matter was reconsidered as some other channels had also shown similar content for which they had been issued warnings, but the panel looked at all the circumstances and stuck to its stand.
The same order also lists two other cases of alleged violations by the channel which were considered by the panel. One of them related to telecast of gory visuals of dead bodies.
In another case, the channel telecast a programme that allegedly appeared to be defamatory towards women. The IMC had asked the channel to run an apology scroll but it did not comply.
The government’s order mentions all the three cases and says that the “IMC clarified that the TV channel can be allowed to carry out the three awards of one day off air concurrently”.
Quoting rules under the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, the ministry order said the government “orders to prohibit the transmission or retransmission of News Time Assam TV channel for one day on any platform throughout India with effect from 00:01 hours on 9th November, 2016 till 00:01 hours on 10th November, 2016.”
News channel NDTV India has also been ordered off air for the same date over its coverage of the Pathankot attack, in a move that has triggered a controversy.
With opposition parities criticising the government’s action, defence minister Manohar Parrikar it was a security-related issue and the channel appeared to have violated guidelines for coverage of terror attacks.