Days after the government issued showcause notices to three television news channels for allegedly showing disrespect to the judiciary and President by airing certain content on the day 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon was hanged, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore on Wednesday said that the government had to issue notices because some channels crossed the “Lakshman Rekha”.
“The government is always very reluctant to issue notices to channels for breaking the programme code,” he said, speaking at the 19th Col Pyara Lal Memorial Lecture on ‘Role and Limitations of Social Media in Image Building and Perception Management’.
“In the rush for TRP, they brought in Chhota Shakeel, of all people, to comment from the other side. And he (Shakeel) actually went on to say on one news channel that every action has a reaction. And then when questioned further, he said, there are others who are watching you and will act against you,” Rathore said, adding that the country’s territory, which includes frequencies in the air, cannot be used by people “who are against us to do their propaganda”.
“We issued a showcause notice as the idea was that the channels maintain broadcasts within the parameters where India is not affected. Where we don’t foment community issues against each other. We are very liberal by far,” he said.
The I&B Ministry has asked ABP News, NDTV 24×7 and Aaj Tak to explain why action should not be taken against them for broadcasting content that included phone-in interviews of Chhota Shakeel on Aaj Tak and ABP News.
The channels had responded by saying that they did not violate any provisions of the programme code and that whatever they aired in relation to this case was part of their duty to keep the public informed.