Even as a war of words furiously continues between the press and the ruling government since the Information and Broadcasting Ministry announced its decision to block NDTV India from airing its content for a day, two more channels have been ordered similar blackouts for violating the rules.
While News Time Assam, a regional channel, has been told to go off air on November 9 for allegedly showing images of corpses and revealing the identity of a minor who was brutally tortured while working as a domestic servant, Careworld TV be taken off air for seven days from November 9 for allegedly broadcasting objectionable content.
Quoting rules under the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, it said that the government "orders to prohibit the transmission or retransmission of News Time Assam TV channel for one day on any platform throughout India with effect from 00:01 hours on 9th November, 2016 till 00:01 hours on 10th November, 2016." An inter-ministerial committee (IMC) reportedly arrived at its decision after a show cause notice was issued to News Time Assam TV channel in October 2013 for having compromised the privacy and dignity of the child while also exposing him to harm and stigma.
While these bans that started with NDTV are being criticised by opposition and media bodies, the government in its defence has said that since 2005, 28 similar orders have been issued that have barred channels from airing their content for one day to two months.
Twenty one channels were taken off air during 2005 and 2013 when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power. Most of them were taken off for violating rules and showing adult content and nudity. It included channels such as AXN and Fashion TV, which have been taken off the air three times between 2007 and 2010. Fashion TV was banned for two months after it aired visuals of topless women on a programme titled 'Midnight Hot'. It was also banned again for nine days in 2010, followed by a 10-day ban in 2013 for explicit visuals.
The content was regulated on channels including Salton News Channel, News Times Assam and NTV News Channel. News channel Al Jazeera was also blocked for from airing for five days for showing the wrong map of India in 2015.
However, the government's action against NDTV Hindi is the first time that a channel has been pulled up for jeopardising national interest. Accused of violating Rule 6 (1) (p) of the Cable TV act, an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry held NDTV India responsible for releasing "sensitive information" during their live coverage of the anti-terror operations that underway at Pathankot on January 4.
In its defence, NDTV sent International Business Times, India this statement regarding the decision of the IMC:
"The order of the MIB has been received. It is shocking that NDTV has been singled out in this manner. Every channel and newspaper had similar coverage. In fact, NDTV's coverage was particularly balanced. After the dark days of the emergency when the press was fettered, it is extraordinary that NDTV is being proceeded against in this manner. NDTV is examining all options in this matter."
Meanwhile, Twitter reacted to the government's decision to ban more channels:
I suppose News Time Assam now has more tweets than viewers.— Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats) November 5, 2016
BREAKING— AAP Ka Mehta (@DaaruBaazMehta) November 5, 2016
Modi Government orders 'News Time Assam' channel be taken off air for a day
Freedom of Free Press in danger!!
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