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First stop Sangli,as media body vows not to air inciting footage

The newly formed body of television journalists,Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) has decided its members will not air any ‘sponsored’ acts of violence or protests....

Written by Archna Shukla | New Delhi |
September 10, 2009 3:47:57 am

The newly formed body of television journalists,Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) has decided its members will not air any ‘sponsored’ acts of violence or protests. As a consequence,it did not air the “inflammatory” CDs distributed by some Maharashtra BJP leaders in connection with the communal tension in Sangli and Miraj towns.

“We have decided to not be party to any effort to orchestrate violence. The decision to not air any footage from the CD carrying inflammatory material was taken in keeping with this decision,” said Shazi Zaman,president BEA and editor Star News. BEA members comprise editors from leading television news channels in the country. Pankaj Pachauri of NDTV 24X7 and Arnab Goswami of Times Now are BEA’s vice-presidents.

While Zaman and Pachauri refused to disclose the content of the CD,two persons close to the development said the CD had,among other provocative elements,the picture of a poster that showed Maratha king Shivaji vanquishing Mughal warrior Afzal Khan.

They said the Maharashtra Police had sent a letter to News Broadcasters’ Association (NBA),another body of private television news channels,requesting them not to air the content of the CD given by the BJP leaders. “But at our end,we had already decided to not air it,” said Zaman.

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BEA,according to Zaman and Pachauri,is a culmination of a year-long consultative process among broadcast editors to constitute a body that will fight against threat to freedom of expression as well as build sensitivity around issues that concern general audience. “NBA is an industry lobby. They have a code of conduct but because members of this body are representatives of owners,they do not have the kind of sensitivity to the issues related to content and freedom of expression,as journalists are expected to have,” said another BEA member.

The BEA plans to evolve its own code of conduct that will have clear dos and don’ts on news coverage.

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