New Delhi: The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry on Monday put the one-day ban on Hindi news channel NDTV India on hold, two people aware of the development said.
The ministry on 3 November asked New Delhi Television India-owned Hindi language news channel to go off-air for 24 hours on 9 November, saying it had revealed “sensitive details” on the attack suspected to have been carried out by Pakistan-based terrorists at the Indian Air Force station at Pathankot, Punjab.
“The ministry has decided to take a relook at the order. Venkaiah Naidu (minister of I&B) has agreed to the request of Prannoy Roy (founder and executive co-chairperson at NDTV) to take a relook at the recommendations made by the inter-ministerial committee asking NDTV India to be taken off-air for a day considering that NDTV’s perspective was perhaps not adequately appreciated,” said an official at the ministry who requested anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to reporters.
An NDTV spokesperson confirmed that the order has been put on hold, saying the channel has received an official confirmation from the ministry.
According to the official cited above, Roy and Naidu had a detailed discussion on Monday on “various aspects of the coverage and recommendations submitted by the inter-ministerial committee. We have decided to review the order for now,” he said.
An inter-ministerial committee set up by the I&B ministry had held the channel in violation of the programming code of the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015.
The committee said last Thursday that the channel in a live telecast on 4 January had disclosed details of the location of an ammunition depot and the place where the terrorists were holed up as well as the location of a school and residential areas.
According to the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015, “No programme shall be carried in the cable service which contains live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces, wherein media coverage shall be restricted to periodic briefing by an officer designated by the appropriate government till such operation concludes.”
The order drew severe criticism from media organizations and journalists across the country. The Editors Guild of India, The Broadcast Editors Association and the News Broadcasters Association condemned the decision and asked the government to reconsider the order.
In its clarification, NDTV had said that it was singled out by the government, adding: “Every channel and newspaper had similar coverage. In fact, NDTV’s coverage was particularly balanced.”
“After the dark days of the emergency when the press was fettered, it is extraordinary that NDTV is being proceeded against in this manner,” the broadcaster said in a statement on 3 November.
The broadcaster also moved the Supreme Court on Monday, challenging the constitutional validity of the order and “the provisions of law pursuant to which the said order has purportedly been passed.”