Mumbai: A blackout of some news channels transmitting the coverage of terror in Mumbai and the ongoing rescue of hostages is already underway in Mumbai. The Deputy Commissioner of Police, (Enforcement), CBCID, Mumbai, Sheela Sail, has sent a directive to most multiple system operators (MSOs) telling them to stop transmission and exhibition of clippings/live relay/coverage on news channels of the current terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
This directive is under Section 19 of the Cable Television Network Regulation Act and is being seen as a bid to quell fear and rumours flying across Mumbai city and to aid police operations in the ongoing rescue operations of hostages. Media observers however fear this could actually exacerbate rumour mongering and fear in the city. Meanwhile some news channels are actually making appeals on air to keep them on.
But while certain cable operators have blocked news channels, a few others are refusing to do so and say they are considering legal recourse. In effect some areas of the city could get news feeds and some many not as the day progresses. Jagjit Kohli, managing director & CEO of Digicable Network Pvt Ltd confirmed that he has received this directive but said he will not be blocking out news channels. ” Its impossible for cable operators to monitor who’s showing live proceedings and who’s not. Instead of sending this notice to MSOs, they should touch base directly with the broadcasters and restrain them from showing such content. We are all going to fight this regulation.”
Kohli added that all the MSOs are talking amongst themselves on how they should be fighting this directive and if all else fails, they could resort to legal action. Meanwhile, Ashok Mansukhani, president, Multi Systems Operators Alliance, a trade body representing leading cable operators said that no news channels had been blacked out. He however said that the same notice had been forwarded to the news broadcasters, so that they can show due restraint.