Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry recently issued an advisory against provocative news telecast of Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. “It has come to the notice of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting that in the wake of recent incidents related to Cauvery water dispute, certain TV channels have been telecasting provocative and inflammatory news/programmes,” the advisory noted.
It added that some channels have also aired footage of “violent incidents” and “rioting” which could lead to “the law and order situation in the both the affected states to deteriorate”. The Ministry urged the media to present news only after proper verification of facts. It emphasised on maintaining restraint to ensure social harmony.
In pursuance of the same, the advisory appealed to local media and cable networks in “national interest” to choose their words carefully while reporting. They were also asked to refrain from telecasting visuals of violence and instead use shots of security forces and Cauvery river.
Responding to the I&B Ministry, NK Singh, General Secretary of Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) said, “This is an advisory not a mandatory injunction.” He opined that the government was well within its prerogative under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution to issue such advisories since it was responsible for law and order.
However, he mentioned that BEA primarily examined advisories on two grounds. “We observe whether it ostracizes press freedom or serves any public cause,” he claimed. Singh conceded that tempers were presently running high and constraint was the need of the hour.