“Unauthentic, Misleading, Sensational”: I&B Ministry Rebukes TV Channels Over ‘Provocative’ Coverage

Private television channels have been advised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to avoid “sensational” and “provocative” coverage of the north-west Delhi violence and the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

The advisory issued by the union ministry said: “It has, however, been found that in the recent past several satellite TV channels have carried out coverage of events and incidents in a manner which appears to be unauthentic, misleading, sensational and using socially unacceptable language and remarks, offending good taste and decency, and obscene and defamatory and having communal overtones, all of which appear to be violative of the Programme Code and infringement of the provisions of sub-section (2) of Section 20 of the aforementioned Act. In particular, attention is invited to reporting on Russia-Ukraine conflict, certain incidents in North-West Delhi and of certain news debates.”

The channels, as per the ministry’s advisory, were making false claims and “misquoting international agencies/actors” on the Ukraine war and that they used “scandalous headlines/taglines” completely unrelated to news items.

“Many of the journalists and news anchors of these channels made fabricated and hyperbolic statements intending to incite the audiences,” the advisory read. “One channel aired a news item, ‘Ukraine mein Atomi Hadkamp’, on 18th April, 2022, during which it mentioned that Russia is planning a nuclear attack on Ukraine. It further sensationalised the situation and mentioned that the attack will happen in the coming few days. The report misquoted international agencies also,” it stated. 

Citing one more example, the advisory said: “”Another channel indulged in war-mongering continues to air fact-less speculations to an extent that had the tendency to infuse fear in the minds of viewers as it claimed that Russia has given a 24 hours deadline for the nuclear attack on Ukraine.”

Referring to the coverage of recent communal violence in the national capital, the advisory flagged television headlines such as ‘Delhi mein Aman ke dushman kaun? (who is the enemy of peace in Delhi)’ and said that a channel repeatedly carried a video clipping of a man carrying a sword. “Channels claim that this video depicts that it was pre-planned to spread violence in a religious procession,” it said.

The I&B ministry also posed objection to to a debate titled ‘Vote Bank Vs Majoritarian Politics’ aired on April 19.

Flagging the use of “unparliamentary, provocative and socially unacceptable language, communal remarks and derogatory references”, the ministry said it may have a negative psychological impact on viewers and may also incite communal disharmony and disturb the peace at large”. As per the advisory, some channels were “found to be disrespectful, passing on insulting remarks or giving reference to the different religions or faiths or their founders”.

The government expressed serious concern about the flagged issues, the ministry noted and, asking channels to “immediately refrain from publishing and transmitting any content which is violative of the aforementioned provisions of The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995”.

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