As security forces continued their operations to neutralize terrorists who attacked a police station in Dinanagar in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, the Information & Broadcasting ministry asked the news and current affairs television channels to “desist” from engaging in live coverage of the anti-terrorist operations with “immediate effect”.
In an advisory, the I&B ministry reiterated that the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015, state that “no programme shall be carried in the cable service which contains live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces” and that “media coverage shall be restricted to periodic briefing by an officer designated by the appropriate government till such operation concludes”.
The ministry further stated that it has been brought to its notice that “during today’s ongoing anti-terrorist operations in Gurdaspur, Punjab, some News and Current Affairs TV channels have carried telecast of these operations without restricting themselves to periodic briefing by an officer designated by the appropriate Government, though the operations had not been concluded”.
“Such telecast is in clear violation of the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015, and is therefore liable for action thereunder. Therefore, it is hereby advised to desist from further violation of the above said Rules with immediate effect,” the I&B advisory stated.
While delivering the First Justice J S Verma Memorial Lecture in January this year, I&B Minister Arun Jaitley had called it the “desire of the media to be an actor” while reporting from scenes of security operations and had added that country’s security and defence establishments were of the view that this cannot be allowed and that the matter was under “serious and very advanced consideration”.
Following this, a new clause was added to Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 to ensure that news channels restrict themselves to reporting periodic briefing by designated officers while reporting on an anti-terror operation.,
The live coverage of an anti-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district on March 20 had also prompted the I&B Ministry to issue an advisory asking broadcasters to not air live such operations to avoid any adverse impact on rescue exercise. At that time, the I&B ministry had asked TV channels not to focus on location, strength, movement, strategy and related operations being followed by security forces engaging with the terrorists. It had further advised all TV channels to safeguard innocent lives and ensure that no operations-linked information reaches the terrorists and their handlers. “In the interest of national security, live coverage of counter-terrorism operations by security forces should not be telecast,” the I&B Ministry advisory had stated.