Channels defend Yakub Memon coverage; say rules not violated

Last Updated 24 August 2015, 16:10 IST

Three leading news broadcasters, which were issued show cause notices by the government over their coverage of the Yakub Memon hanging incident, have defended their programmes saying these were according to the norms and did not violate any rules.

Sources said NDTV, whose two channels NDTV India and NDTV 24x7 had been served show cause notices, and Hindi news channels 'Aaj Tak' and 'ABP News' have replied to the notices by Information and Broadcasting ministry.

"All the channels have defended their coverage. They have also held that the content should be seen in the overall context of the programme," a senior official said.

The official added that the channels had also said that they held the judiciary in high esteem. The channels held that their programmes have been as per the norms and they have not violated any rules, a senior offcial said.

"The matter will now be referred to an Inter Ministerial committee (IMC) as per the procedure," the official added.

While a meeting of the IMC is scheduled tomorrow, it is unlikely that the matter pertained to these notices would come up as there were already previous matters scheduled, officials said.

They said NDTV 24x7 got the show cause notice as it "carried the byte of a certain political leader and one time lawyer for Yakub Memon".

The notice to the channels says that it had "allowed transmission of such content which not only questioned the judicial system of India but tended to denigrate the very institution by hinting that it is not at par with judicial systems existing in the UK and the US".

NDTV India was served the notice after one of its anchors made a comment, which the ministry felt appeared tantamount to "questioning" the judgement of the Supreme Court.

The ministry issued separate show cause notices to Aaj Tak and ABP News after the channels telecast interviews with Chhota Shakeel, aide of Dawood Ibrahim.

In its notice to Aaj Tak, the ministry said that the channel had for over five minutes carried the programme where Shakeel is heard making "some very objectionable comments about the Indian justice system". A similar notice was issued to ABP news for airing Shakeel's comments.

In all the four show cause notices, the ministry said the channels had violated various sections of the Programming Code and should submit their replies in 15 days.

News broadcasters had expressed concern and dismay over the show cause notices issued by the government to the four channels.

Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) met I&B Minister Arun Jaitley, where they shared with him concerns relating to action by the ministry against the channels.
The broadcasters have been wanting that the ministry refer the matter to the self regulatory mechanism established by them.

Urging the government to withdraw its show cause notices to the TV channels, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) had said the matter should be instead referred to News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA).

Expressing its concern over the matter, the NBA had in a statement said that since the government has said it believes in independence of media, it should refer the matter to NBSA, which is a self-regulatory mechanism set up by the broadcasters.
(Published 24 August 2015, 16:05 IST)

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