NaMo TV might be projected as ad platform

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File photo

Even as complaints by the Opposition parties prompted the Election Commission to seek a report on the NaMo TV, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting may take the position that the channel was an “advertisement platform” and did not require its approval for launch.

The EC has sought a report from the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the recent launch of the NaMo TV, which had a quiet launch on March 31 and has since been airing mostly Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speeches in the election rallies as well as other content that is in favour of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) wrote to the EC asking if a TV channel could be launched exclusively to publicise Prime Minister's political speeches in election rallies at a time when the Model Code of Conduct was in force.

The Model Code of Conduct came into force on March 10, the day the EC announced the schedule of the Lok Sabha polls as well as the elections to the legislative assemblies in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim.

The Congress too questioned the launch of the NaMo TV just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP has been tweeting about the NaMo TV from its official handles and urging people to watch it.

The EC wrote to the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting seeking its views on the launch of the channel and if it had granted permission for it to launch.

While efforts to reach out to the senior officials of the I&B ministry for an official response went in vain, sources said that the NaMo TV was not among the channels permitted by it. They pointed out that the channel was an advertising platform run by a service provider which did not require permission.

The uplinking and downlinking rules framed by the I&B ministry clearly stipulate that all satellite television channels require its prior approval to air programmes.

The ministry's rules for the DTH operators too state that no licensee should carry or include in its DTH service “any television broadcast or channel” which had not been registered by the central government for being viewed within the territory of India.

Once the permission for uplinking of a channel is issued by the I&B ministry, the wireless planning and coordination wing of the Department of Telecommunication assigns frequency spectrum (bandwidth) to the tele-port operators to enable them to uplink the channel.

“Let the appropriate authorities answer. Let the Information and Broadcasting and EC (Election Commission) comment on it. You and I should not get into it,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told a TV channel when he was asked about the controversy over NaMo TV.

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