The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has finally come up with a comprehensive Code of Ethics and broadcasting standards to cover the broadcast industry. The broadcast industry has off late run into several controversies and opposition from both the Government and common people regarding the type of programmes being aired and responsibility and accountability of reporters and the media.
The regulations are meant for effective implementation of the Code. The Code and Regulations have been vetted by Harish Salve, senior advocate and former Solicitor General of India. The NBA has submitted these for consideration to the Government. A copy of the Code and Regulations is available with exchange4media.
The fundamental principles of the Code are that professional electronic journalists should accept and understand that they operate as trustees of the public and should, therefore, make it their mission to seek the truth and to report it fairly with integrity and independence. Professional journalists should stand fully accountable for their actions.
The purpose of this Code is to document the broad paradigms accepted by the members of the NBA as practice and procedures that would help journalists of electronic media to adhere to the highest possible standards of public service and integrity.
News channels recognise that they have a special responsibility in the matter of adhering to high standards of journalism since they have the most potent influence on public opinion. The Code highlights maintaining impartiality and objectivity in reporting to ensure neutrality, reporting on crime and safeguards to ensure crime and violence are not glorified, depiction of violence or intimidation against women and children.
The Code would also take care that news channels ensured that they did not show, without morphing, nudity of the male or female form. Channels will also not show explicit images of sexual activity or sexual perversions or acts of sexual violence like rape or molestation, or show pornography, or the use of sexually suggestive language.
As a rule, channels must not intrude on private lives or personal affairs of individuals, unless there is a clearly established larger and identifiable public interest for such a broadcast, the Code said.
On the issue of endangering national security, the Code said, “In the use of any terminology or maps that represent India and Indian strategic interests, all news channels will use specific terminology and maps mandated by law and Indian Government rules.”
“News channels will not broadcast any material that glorifies superstition and occultism in any manner. In broadcasting any news about such genre, news channels will also issue public disclaimers to ensure that viewers are not misled into believing or emulating such beliefs and activity. Therefore, news channels will not broadcast ‘as fact’ myths about ‘supernatural’ acts, apparitions and ghosts, personal or social deviations or deviant behaviour, and re-creations of the same,” the Code further said.
While mentioning about operations, the Code said, “As a guiding principle, sting and undercover operations should be a last resort of news channels in an attempt to give the viewer comprehensive coverage of any news story. News channels will not allow sex and sleaze as a means to carry out sting operations, the use of narcotics and psychotropic substances or any act of violence, intimidation, or discrimination as a justifiable means in the recording of any sting operation.”
“Sting operations will also abide by the principles of self-regulation mentioned above, and news channels will ensure that they will be guided, as mentioned above, by an identifiable larger public interest. News channels will, as a ground rule, ensure that sting operations are carried out only as a tool for getting conclusive evidence of wrong doing or criminality, and that there is no deliberate alteration of visuals, or editing, or interposing done with the raw footage in a way that it also alters or misrepresents the truth or presents only a portion of the truth,” the Code added.
About corrigendum, the Code said, “All news channels will, in keeping with the principle of due accuracy and impartiality, ensure that significant mistakes made in the course of any broadcast is acknowledged and corrected on air immediately.”
According to the Code, all news channels are now also required to create provision to receive consumer feedback on their websites.