The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has asked Sudarshan News, whose controversial programme promo claiming a “big expose on conspiracy by Muslims to infiltrate government services” came under judicial scrutiny, to ensure that the show does not violate the laid-down programme code, while noting there is no pre-censorship of any show telecast on TV channels.
The channel, headed by Suresh Chavhanke, claimed vindication of its stance and said in a statement that it will air the programme, “Bindas Bol”, on alleged Muslims’ “infiltration” in UPSC, on Friday at 8 PM.
The programme had come under judicial scrutiny before the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court last month.
The apex court had refused to impose a pre-broadcast ban on Sudarshan TV, but the high court in an interim order stayed the telecast of the show.
Acting on complaints over the show’s promo, the I&B Ministry had issued a notice to Sudarshan News, asking it to clarify about the show in context of the Programme Code enshrined under Cable Television Network Rules, 1994.
The Delhi High Court had restrained the channel from telecasting the programme, which was scheduled to be on air at 8 PM on August 28, the ministry said in its order.
The court had asked the channel to submit its reply to the ministry notice.
The central government shall decide on the notice remaining uninfluenced by any observations made by the court and either party shall be entitled to challenge the order passed by the central government, the ministry order dated September 9 said quoting the high court directives.
In its reply, the first point raised by Sudarshan News that the ministry’s notice is based on content in social media platforms which is not a subject matter of the ministry, does not hold ground as the promo was telecast on the Sudarshan TV channel, the I&B ministry order said.
The second contention of the channel was that the ministry cannot do pre-censorship of a programme, and a programme cannot be stopped or prohibited from being telecast.
“As per norm, there is no pre-censorship of a programme telecast on TV channels (other than films, film song or film promo or film trailer, which have to be pre-certified by CBFC),” the order said.
“Reference is invited to section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. Sub-section (3) provides that where the Central Government is of the opinion that any programme of any channel is not in conformity with the prescribed programme code referred to in section 5 (of the act), it may by order, regulate or prohibit the transmission or retransmission of such programme,” it said.
This is a peculiar situation where while the programme has not yet been telecast, the promo of the programme has been telecast on the channel, which formed the basis of the complaints received in the ministry, it said.
Accordingly, the ministry issued the notice to the channel to give its say regarding adherence by the channel to the Programme Code in respect of the proposed programme, the order said.
The channel has mentioned in the written submission that the proposed programme is not violative of the law and further that if at all the programme is found to be violative, action as per law may be taken, the ministry said.
“Having regard to the aforementioned facts and circumstances of the case, Sudarshan TV channel is hereby directed to ensure that the programme proposed to be telecast does not violate any of the programme code. If any violation of the programme code is found, action as per law will be taken,” the ministry order said.