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Govt mulls controls on sting operations

19-April-2005
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Govt mulls controls on sting operations

The hidden camera might not be allowed to sting at the `wrong places' and at the `wrong time' anymore.

Shaken by a series of embarrassing exposes through `sting operations' by news channels, the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry is considering incorporating a specific set of "dos and don'ts" that could become law by finding its way in the proposed Broadcasting Bill.

According to official sources, infringement of privacy of a person by recording intimate moments through hidden camera could be strictly barred while such sting operations could be allowed for bringing corruption out in the open.

A broad consensus on this is emerging within Government circles.

Sources said that there is growing concern about such operations and that the Government is keen on drawing a line between what is permissible and what is not. "We trying to generate a public opinion on this issue before we take a decision."

The option of including this in the Broadcasting Bill is being considered as the legislation envisages the setting up of an independent regulator.

"One of the mandates of the regulator could be taking appropriate action against such sting operations. However, a final view on whether or not to include this in the legislation would be taken only after wide consultations with other Ministries," the sources said.

Currently, there are no specific provisions related to sting operations. The I&B Ministry feels that such exposes are being used by channels to improve their TRPs (television rating points), which should not be allowed.

Meanwhile, officials said that the Rajat Sharma-promoted India TV has reiterated that the episode featuring Bihar legislators in a `sex scandal' was not to generate publicity or attract viewers to the channel.

The I&B Ministry had slapped a show-cause notice on India TV seeking an explanation on whether the episode, Bhaiya Bole, had violated the Programme Code or not.

It said that the show appeared to have offended good taste and decency. Also, this was seen as "obscene and likely to corrupt public morality and was not suited for unrestricted public exhibition."

India TV had been airing a series of sting operations featuring politicians, and film and TV actors and had claimed that there are some more such startling revelations stored in its cans. The I&B Ministry, on its part, has not yet taken a final decision on the issue.

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