Malayalam channels barred for 48 hrs for coverage of Delhi riots

New Delhi: Malayalam channels Asianet News and MediaOne have been barred for 48 hours by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for their ‘coverage of the Delhi riots’. Both the channels have been showing a black screen since 7.30 pm on Friday, March 6, when they were taken off air, the channels can resume broadcast only at 7.30 pm on March 8. The order from the ministry alleges Asianet News and MediaOne were provocative, biased and critical of the RSS and Delhi police, sided with a particular community and showed those who supported Citizenship Amendment Act in poor light.

Channel seems to be critical towards Delhi police, RSS: Order

“It appeared that telecast of reports on North-East Delhi violence had been shown in a manner which highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community. Channel’s reporting on Delhi violence seems to be biased as it is deliberately focusing on the vandalism of CAA supporters. It also questions RSS and alleges Delhi Police inaction. Channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS,” the order said.

For Asianet News, it is a report by journalist PR Sunil on the violence in Jaffrabad and about Delhi police being mute spectators that led to the temporary ban. For Media One, it is a bulletin carrying on a phone-in conversation with its Delhi correspondent Hassanul Banna reporting about the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors being injured and police’s refusal to visit the spot and nab the vandals that led to the ban. 

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The order further states that Asianet reported about rioters blocking commuters and attacking them for their religion, attacking houses of Muslims in Hindu majority areas and rioters firing at each other with slogans of Jai Sri Ram and Azadi in the air. Asianet also reported about shops, houses and vehicles being burnt and no action being taken as the violence continued for the third day, with the Central Government not acting to control the riots.  This report, the I&B order says, had been shown in a manner that highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community.

MediaOne accuses Delhi police

The Ministry has further alleged that MediaOne accused the Delhi Police of remaining inactive during violence, and the channel also blamed police for vandalising shops and fruit carts.

“The channel also reported that violence took place mostly in Muslim dominated area of Chand Bagh, Delhi. While telecasting the news, the channel carried the news of stone pelting, arson and injured people being taken to hospital,” the order says. 

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This report, the order alleges, could have ‘incited violence and posed danger to maintenance of law and order situation, particularly when the situation is already highly volatile and charged up and riots are taking place in the area’. 

Both channels have been taken off air citing two rules under the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.

Rule 6(1 c) says that no programme should be carried which contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes. Rule 6(1 e) too has been evoked by the ministry. The rule says that no programme 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.

NDTV India

In November 2016, NDTV India was taken off air after their coverage of Pathankot terrorist attack. The channel allegedly received notice for allegedly violating norms of the Cable TV Network Rules, 1994 that prevent live coverage of anti-terrorist operations.

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