The Information and Broadcasting Ministry‘s order to ban NDTV India for a day has come under close scrutiny from members of the Editors Guild of India. The ban was issued as a result of the channel’s telecast onJanuary 4, 2016 between1225 and 1231 hours, which according to the Ministry, revealed sensitive information surrounding the Pathankot terror attacks and endangered the lives of those who live near the airbase.
The Ministry has ruled a day-long ban of “transmission or re-transmission” of NDTV India across all platforms throughout the country. The ban will be in effect from “00:01 hrs on 9th November to 00:01 hrs of 10th November.”
Following the order, the Editors Guild of India has come forth to publicly condemn the decision, citing that the ban on the channel demonstrates a direct violation of media rights. The official statement issued reads: “The ostensible reason for the order as reported is that the channel’s coverage of Pathankot terror attack on January 2, 2016 that the government claims gave out sensitive information to the handlers of terrorists. NDTV in its response to a show cause by the government has maintained that it’s coverage was sober and did not carry any information that had not been covered by the rest of the media, and was in the public domain.” The statement also calls for the immediate revoking of the ban.
The order ruled by theInformation and Broadcasting Ministry on November 2 stated that at the time of the telecast, counter measures were actively underway on the ground. The reporter gave out snippets of valuable information about the arms, ammunition, and warfare vehicles that could be made use of by adversaries, thereby threatening the security of the nation. The order also mentions that the channel revealed details about nearby organisations like schools and localities near the airbase, which further endangers the lives of the civilians. In its ruling, the order cites the program codeunderCable TV Network Rules, 1994, which forbids the live coverage of any ongoingcounter-terrorist activities during which time the media will have access to only the informationgiven out by designated officials.
The opposing statement from the Editors Guild of India points out that the decision was taken without any judicial oversight, which in turnviolates the fundamental principles of freedom and justice.