The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has ordered blackout of two North-East based channels – DY 365 and News Time – for 24 hours for violating certain provisions of the Programme Code prescribed under Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the rules framed thereunder.
The blackout period will commence from midnight of July 30, 2014 and end at midnight of July 31, 2014.
The news story in question concerned two girls and an MLA and was aired on DY 365 on October 30, 2013 at 18:52:25 hrs and 21:08:41 hrs and on News Time on October 30, 2013 at 18:53:51 hrs and on October 31 at 21:38:33 hrs.
The report mentioned about two girls, who were travelling in the red beaconed official vehicle of Abu Taher Bepari, Parliamentary Secretary and MLA of Golakganj, Assam.
The MIB observed that calling the said woman and the girl as “mysterious girls” and asking them apparently annoying, intimidating and unwarranted questions on camera appeared to cast serious doubts on their character, well-being and future life in the society. Hinting at immoral links of the girls with the MLA, in question appeared unwarranted in the circumstances and apparently there was no supportive evidence. “Mere use of the MLA’s car by the girls cannot be a basis for attributing suggestive innuendos in the news report, which appears to be aimed at defaming these girls, thus denigrating them,” the MIB notice stated. It was further observed that DY 365 channel had not blurred the faces of the girls and their personal details were disclosed a number of times.
MIB in its notice stated that the news report telecast by DY 365 and News Time, prima facie, appeared to violate the following provisions of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994:
• Rule 6(1) (a) provides that no programme should be carried in the cable service which offends against good taste or decency;
• Rule 6(1) (d) provides that no programme should be carried in the cable service which contains anything obscene, defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendoes and half truths;
• Rule 6(1) (i) criticises, maligns or slanders and individual in person or certain groups, segments of social, public and moral life of the country;
• Rule (1) (k) denigrates women through the depiction in any manner of the figure of a woman, her form or body or any part thereof in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent, or derogatory to women, or is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals.
A show cause notice was issued to DY 365 and News Time on February 6, 2014, whereby both channels were called upon to submit their replies within 15 days from receipt of the notice.
No reply was received from News Time within the stipulated time-frame, however, a representatives of the channel appeared before the Inter Ministerial Committee (lMC) on February 26, 2014 and submitted a letter in response to MIB’s show cause notice. In its letter, the channel submitted, inter-alia, that the news telecast on October 30 and 31, 2013 had not violated any of the rules covered by Rule 6 of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.
News Time further said that the real facts are that Abu Taher Bepari has lodged this complaint before the Ministry for his personal enmity. “Considering that the said news was not telecast deliberately to malign Abu Taher Bepari and the two girls,” News Time’s letter maintained and added that for ends of justice, the channel may be absolved from such allegation.
Meanwhile, responding to the show cause notice, DY 365 in its letter submitted, inter-alia, that the programme was telecast in view of the fact that many cases had been reported about the gross misuse of the red beacon light, not only in the State of Assam, but also in the whole country. “The news programme was only shown in good faith, bonafide and in public interest. lt is specifically and categorically denied that the news footage is against public order, decency or morality,” the channel further said.
Inter Ministerial Committee noted that the intention of the channels appeared to be motivated as they attributed allegations of loose moral character on the girls. The Committee was of the view that the intention of the two channels to chase the girls and to expose their faces on TV was perverted and was against all ethics of journalism and clear violation of the Programme Code.
Therefore, the Central Government, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) & (3) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and under Paras 8.1 and 8.2 of the guidelines for uplinking from India, has ordered to prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of News Time and DY 365 channels for one day on any platform throughout India.