Criticism of NDTV ban politically inspired, says Naidu

Chennai, Nov 5 (IANS) Stressing that the BJP and the Centre have the highest regard for media and its freedom, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday termed criticism of the one-day ban on NDTV India channel as “ill informed and politically inspired”.

Reacting to the criticism of the government’s decision on the ban, Naidu said: “I am happy to note that the people of the country are broadly with the decision in the matter of NDTV India.”

“Always, there will be a minority who are critical of whatever the government does in the best interest of the country,” Naidu said.

The BJP and the NDA government have the highest regard for media and the freedom of media and will never allow any infringement on it, Naidu added.

“The belated criticism of the action, proposed to be taken against NDTV India for violating the norms of live coverage of anti-terrorist operations by the security personnel in Pathankot in January, is clearly ill informed and politically inspired.”

He said the reactions that came a day after the government’s decision on November 3, were “clearly an after-thought, suggesting a motivated design to create a controversy where none existed”.

Pointing out that the Congress-led-UPA government had ordered several television channels to go off air during 2005-14 for a period ranging from one day to two months, Naidu said the channels were banned for obscene visuals or adult rated movies.

“One channel was taken off air for 30 days for telecasting a sting operation,” he said.

“People of the country are also wise enough to appreciate which of the two violations — showing obscene visuals at the stroke of midnight or risking the lives of defence personnel and civilians through a live telecast of anti-terrorist operations in broad day light — is a serious threat to the interests of the nation including it’s sovereignty, integrity and security,” Naidu said.

He said the decision against NDTV India was not based on any newly invented rule and principle but based on what was clearly articulated by the Congress-led-UPA government in various advisories issued after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008.

Naidu said NDTV India has violated the government advisories and was found to be unrepentant about what they have done.

“This channel was also found to have resorted to similar violations earlier,” he said.

Naidu said the Editors Guild of India took a full day to come out with its response on the ban on NDTV India.

He said the Guild should realise that under sub-section (2) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, central government is required to regulate or prohibit the transmission of any channel or programme in the interest of sovereignty, integrity and security of India.

As per para 8.1 of the Uplinking Guidelines, the central government is empowered to take action for transmitting any objectionable content inconsistent with public interest.

“Therefore, the government is not required to approach the Courts in such cases, as suggested by the Guild. I leave it to the wisdom of the Editors Guild to ponder if the decision against NDTV India for the reasons explained, is really reminiscent of the dark days of Emergency,” Naidu said.

Earlier, in a series of tweets, Naidu had justified the ban, saying that “freedom of press is important but the country’s security can’t be compromised”.

“Country’s security is paramount. It’s time to ponder if security of the nation is important or TRPs of TV channels,” Naidu tweeted.

The NDTV India channel has been asked to go off air for a day — from midnight of November 8 to midnight of November 9 — for its coverage of the terror attack on the Pathankot Air Base in January.

Meanwhile, DMK leader M. Karunanidhi in a statement termed the BJP government’s action as “transgression of the right to freedom of expression” and continuation of such actions would lead to a “second Emergency” in the country.

–IANS

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