New Delhi: Indian democracy will be damaged if the government tightens media laws in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, media groups said on Tuesday.
Indian television channels were criticised by security agencies for showing live pictures of November’s Mumbai siege and allegedly giving away important information to the attackers trapped inside hotels and a Jewish centre.
The government now wants to amend the Cable Network Regulations (CNR) Act to give the police power to check and approve live television feeds in certain circumstances.
“We urge you to immediately suspend the proposed measures,” television editors said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, calling them a “historical blunder”.
Last month, the News Broadcasters Association agreed to their own set of six guidelines that include no live contact with militants or hostages, no mention of security operation details and no images of people killed.
But security agencies and the government are still not convinced that media groups will not overstep the line again.
“We have already agreed to strong guidelines and anything more will not only seriously curb democratic rights, but will gag our voices,” a spokeswoman for the broadcasters said, declining to give her name.
There are more than 60 English and regional-language news channels in India fighting for the attention of advertisers and viewers in 80 million TV-owning homes.