Mamata condemns one-day ban on NDTV India

Kolkata, Nov 4 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday criticised the Centre’s order to a Hindi news channel to go off air for 24 hours, saying the “shocking” decision reflects the government’s “Emergency-like attitude”.

“The NDTV (India) ban is shocking. If the government had issues with the Pathankot (airbase terror attack) coverage, there are provisions available. But the ban shows an Emergency-like attitude,” Banerjee said on a micro-blogging site.

An inter-ministerial panel of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had recommended the ‘one-day ban’ on NDTV India for its coverage of the terror attack on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot in January.

The ministry, using the powers under the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, said it “orders to prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of NDTV India channel for one day on any platform throughout India with effect from 00:01 hrs on November 9 till 00:01 hrs of November 10, 2016”.

The one-day ban evoked strong public reaction as the issue #NDTVbanned trended on a social media platform for hours on Friday.

While some welcomed the ban, blaming the channel for delivering ‘pro-Pakistan’ content and going ‘soft on terrorism’, others strongly condemned the government’s decision as a curb on the freedom of press.

NDTV News network came out with an official statement after receiving the government order: “It is shocking that NDTV has been singled out in this manner. Every channel and newspaper had similar coverage. In fact, NDTV’s coverage was particularly balanced.”

NDTV said the announcement of the ban made them feel like the “dark days of Emergency are back” and they would “examine all options in the matter”.

“After the dark days of the Emergency when the press was fettered, it is extraordinary that NDTV is being proceeded against in this manner,” the company statement said.