Three things to know about NaMo TV row
NaMo TV is a new channel that exclusively features Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches and content related to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The channel carries a picture of Modi as its logo. It has no broadcast licence and there is still no clarity on its ownership.
The channel has been on air since March 31 across multiple private DTH (direct-to-home) networks in India. The BJP, including the Prime Minister, has been actively promoting this channel on Twitter by asking viewers to tune in to speeches, campaigns, among others. There is no official statement from the party on the channel.
Opposition parties have alleged that broadcast rules were bent or overlooked during the launch of NaMo TV, days before the first phase of voting in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) and DTH operators who air the channel say that NaMo TV is not a licensed channel but a DTH advertisement platform. Tata Sky on Thursday said it’s a “special service via the Internet that (therefore) doesn’t need a government licence,” as per a report on CNBC TV18. Tata Sky CEO Harit Nagpal told news channel NDTV that the BJP is, in fact, the client for NaMo TV.
Tom Vadakkan , a spokesperson for the BJP, has admitted to NDTV that it is the party’s channel. “This is basically an advertisement platform and when you have an advertisement platform you don’t need permissions from the I&B ministry.”
However, the channel’s website states that it is a Hindi news service.
“NAMO TV is your Hindi news website on Narendra Modi live, Narendra Modi video, Narendra Modi app, Narendra Modi news, Narendra Modi latest speech. We provide you with the latest breaking news on Indian politics,” the website of the channel said.
The content on the site is dated and the homepage carries stories about the BJP from September 2018.
The website states that all information is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. “Namo TV does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information,” the website adds.
The Election Commission, which has sought details about NaMo TV from the MIB, will look into the expenditure on this channel and whether its content flouts the model code of conduct. An update from the commission is awaited.