Information and Broadcasting Ministry issued a show cause notice to leading news channels NDTV, NDTV 24x7, Aaj Tak and ABP for the coverage of 1993 Mumbai Blasts convict Yakub Memon’s hanging. The ministry has sought an explanation from the channels in fifteen days why action shouldn’t be taken against them.
Media reports suggest that it was felt some parts of the coverage of these news channels were inappropriate. As per the sections of the program code, no program code should be carried which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promote anti national attitudes.
Aaj Tak and ABP News showed phone interviews of Chota Shakeel. In the interview, he challenged Indian judiciary and he claimed Yakub Memon was innocent, while NDTV aired an interview of Yakub Memon’s lawyer where he said that the hanging was unjustified.
In response, Broadcast Editors Association showed concern over this issue and said it’s a move that curbs freedom of expression of media.
NDTV carried the entire statement on the website which BEA raised against the government.
The letter said, “Broadcast Editors' Association (BEA) has expressed its concern over apparent tendency among governments, both at the Centre and in some states, to serve notices on media organisations in a selective manner.
The apex body of editors of news channels in India has expressed its dismay over the latest notices reportedly issued to three channels - ABP News, Aaj Tak and NDTV - on the questionable pretext that their coverage pertaining to Yakub Memon's death sentence amounted to contempt of the institution of the President as also the judiciary.
The BEA has decided to take up this issue with the government.
The BEA has also expressed concern over the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015 which limits the media coverage of anti-terrorist operations to "periodic briefings" by an officer "till such operation concludes". This amended rule does not mention (1) what constitutes a terrorist operation as different from any other encounter, (2) at what stage should the government notify the nature of incident to the media and (3) does it mean restriction on only airing of the operation "till such operation is over" or does it deny the right to cover the incident per se.
While the BEA does not believe in live visual coverage of terror incidents, it does believe that media coverage cannot be restricted to official briefings. However, there are ample self-regulatory guidelines regarding coverage of terror incidents which this body strictly adheres to.
The BEA has in its executive committee meeting on Saturday, 8th of August, 2015 decided to take up the defamation notices issued by the Rajasthan Government to Times Now and privilege proceedings initiated by the UP Assembly against Aajtak.
Those present in the extended Executive Committee & General Body meeting included Shazi Zaman (ABP News Network), NK.Singh , Arnab Goswami (Times Now), Supriya Prasad (Aaj tak), Milind Khandekar (ABP News Network), Rajnish Ahuja (ABP News Network) Ajit Anjum (India TV) Satish K.Singh (Live india), Vinay Tewari (India Today Television ), Rahul Kanwal (TV Today), VVP Sharma (CNN-IBN), senior journalists Qamar Waheed Naqvi, Shailesh Kumar, Abhijeet Das and Amitabh.