I&B ministry’s notices to TV channels on Yakub’s coverage: Broadcasters’ body to raise this issue with government

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Broadcast Editors’ Association has expressed its dismay over the central government’s decision to send notices to three news channels, ABP News, Aajtak and NDTV, for their coverage on Yakub Memon on the day of his hanging.

A BEA statement described the pretext on which the notices were served ‘questionable’ adding that the body will take up this matter with the government.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry had on Friday sent notices to three channels asking them to reply within 15 days or face reprisals.

The charges levelled against them were included interviewing the under-world don Chhota Shakeel and Yakub Memon’s lawyer on the day the Bombay Blasts convict Yakub Memon was hanged.

BEA, which functions as the TV news industry’s internal watchdog, met on Saturday to decide their strategy on their response to the government’s notices.

The BEA also “expressed concern over the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015 which limits the media coverage of anti-terrorist operations to ‘periodic briefings’ by an officer ’till such operation concludes.'”

The statement signed by ABP News’ editor-in-chief, Shazi Zaman, and BEA’s general secretary NK Singh also agreed to decided to take up the defamation notices issued by the Rajasthan Government to Times Now and privilege proceedings initiated by the UP Assembly against Aajtak.

 

Here’s the full text of the letter.

 

Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) has expressed its concern over apparent tendency among governments, both at the Centre and in some states, to serve notices on media organisations in a selective manner.

The apex body of editors of news channels in India has expressed its dismay over the latest notices reportedly issued to three channels – ABP News, Aajtak and NDTV – on the questionable pretext that their coverage pertaining to Yakub Memon’s death sentence amounted to contempt of the institution of the President as also the judiciary.

The BEA has decided to take up this issue with the government.

The BEA has also expressed concern over the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015 which limits the media coverage of anti-terrorist operations to “periodic briefings” by an officer “till such operation concludes”. This amended rule does not mention (1) what constitutes a terrorist operation as different from any other encounter, (2) at what stage should the government notify the nature of incident to the media and (3) does it mean restriction on only airing of the operation “till such operation is over” or does it deny the right to cover the incident per se.

While the BEA does not believe in live visual coverage of terror incidents, it does believe that media coverage cannot be restricted to official briefings. However, there are ample self-regulatory guidelines regarding coverage of terror incidents which this body strictly adheres to.

The BEA has in its executive committee meeting on Saturday, 8th of August, 2015 decided to take up the defamation notices issued by the Rajasthan Government to Times Now and privilege proceedings initiated by the UP Assembly against Aajtak.

Those present in the extended Executive Committee & General Body meeting included Shazi Zaman (ABP News Network), NK.Singh , Arnab Goswami (Times Now), Supriya Prasad (Aaj tak), Milind Khandekar (ABP News Network), Rajnish Ahuja (ABP News Network)  Ajit Anjum (India TV) Satish K.Singh (Live india), Vinay Tewari (India Today Television ), Rahul Kanwal (TV Today), VVP Sharma (CNN-IBN),  senior journalists Qamar Waheed Naqvi,  Shailesh Kumar, Abhijeet Das and Amitabh.


Signed,

Shazi Zaman,
President,
Broadcast Editors’ Association

NK Singh,
General Secretary,
Broadcast Editors’ Association

 

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