At least two news channels have received showcause notices from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, for airing the February 22 press conference of the spokesperson of the Pakistani armed forces on the Pulwama terror attack.
The notices to ABP News and Tiranga TV, dated February 23, says the channels appear to have “violated” two provisions of the Programme Code.
The showcause notice to Tiranga TV, which is owned by Veecon Media and Broadcasting Private Limited, mentions that “it has come to the notice” of the Ministry that the channel “telecast media briefing of Pakistan army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor on Pulwama terror attack” on February 22.
With the telecast of the “said media briefing, Tiranga TV channel appears to have violated” two provisions of the Programme Code of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
Rule 6 (1) (e) states that “no programme should be carried in the cable service which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promote anti-national attitudes”; and Rule 6 (1) (h) states “no programme should be carried in the cable service which contains anything affecting the integrity of the Nation”.
The notice states that Tiranga TV news channel “has shown the said media briefing for a duration of 20 minutes and 45 seconds and during which there was no intervention from the channel on the correctness or otherwise of the claims being made in the said media briefing in order to ensure that there is no violation of the aforementioned Rules”.
It states that these “facts” point “prima facie” that the channel was in violation of the programme codes, and that it disregarded an advisory issued by the Ministry on the date of the attack.
On February 14, the I&B Ministry had issued an advisory stating: “In light of the recent terrorist attack, TV channels are advised to be particularly cautious with regard to any content which: (i) is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti-national attitudes; and/ or (ii) contains anything affecting the integrity of the nation; and ensure that no such content is telecast which is violative of these Codes.”
Reached for comment, Deepak Choudhry, president of Veecon Media and Broadcasting, said the channel was “surprised” to receive the notice. He said the channel “like all Indians” was “outraged by the terror attack in Pulwama and stands firmly with the armed forces”. Tiranga TV’s programming, he said, “has focused on how Pakistan must pay for its patronage of terrorism” and Ghafoor’s press conference “was only carried as part of overall news coverage”. Choudhry said “we do not subscribe to his views at all and many of our special programmes explicitly countered his views”.
He said other channels “have done a big interview with Pervez Musharraf who was responsible for Kargil as well as Sheikh Rashid a known India-baiter” and these channels “have not received any notice”, while Tiranga TV has “not been calling Pakistani guests for these discussions at all”.
The channel has been given seven days from the date of issue of the notice to explain why action should not be taken against it.
Sources said that ABP News, the Hindi news channel of ABP News Network, has received a similar showcause notice for airing the media briefing of Ghafoor.