NDTV India Ban: Why the 1 Day Ban? Does the Law Permit Such a Ban?

NDTV India – The Hindi news channel was banned for a day by the Central Government and everybody from the opposition parties, to journalists, reporters, activists and observers sharply criticized the government on its decision.

No wonder, a news channel was barred from broadcasting for the very first time after it was found guilty of rupturing national security laws.

Image Courtesy: @NDTVIndia via Twitter
Image Courtesy: @NDTVIndia via Twitter

Though the Central Government constantly defended the ban on the national TV channel, the Editors Guild of India is of the opinion that the move to black out ‘NDTV India’ on November 9 violates the freedom of media and brings back the memoirs of the emergency.

Though the Central Government constantly defended the ban on the national TV channel, the Editors Guild of India is of the opinion that the move to black out ‘NDTV India’ on November 9 violates the freedom of media and brings back the memoirs of the emergency.

Amidst all the chaos and outrage, there is a lot of confusion as to why the ban was imposed and under which law of the Indian Constitution. Here are some of the main aspects of the ban:

The Ban on the Channel

The Information & Broadcasting (I&B) ministry passed a mandate 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 9th November,2016 till 00:01 hrs of 10th November, 2016”. (PTI News)

Why I&B have imposed a ban on NDTV India Hindi channel?

According to the sources in the broadasting ministry, in its reporting of the Pathankot attack, the channel publicized sensitive specifics, such as the site of the ammunition depot, along with residential and school areas.

In its coverage, the channel also seemed to divulge the whereabouts of the attackers. This critical data could have been easily picked up by the terrorists’ trainers and endangered national security – threatening the lives of defense personnel as well as that of the civilians.

Also Read: Is Questioning the Indian Army Anti-National? 

Does the law of the land permit such a ban?

Under Rule 6 (1) (p) of the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, introduced in June 2015, ‘no programme should be carried in the cable service which contains live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces, wherein media coverage shall be restricted to periodic briefing by an officer designated by the appropriate government, till such operation concludes.’

Also Read: Anti-national is Gradually Becoming a Hazardous Slur! 

The Timeline of the Case

On January 4, 2016, the content was aired on NDTV India Hindi channel for 6 minutes from 12:25 hours to 12:31 hours

On January 29 2016, a notice was issued to the channel for violation of the Cable Act. The channel was given an ultimatum to reply within 15 days.

On February 5 2016, NDTV India responded, deferring that the Pathankot coverage was ‘balanced and responsible.’

On July 25 2016, the representatives of the channel were given a ‘personal hearing’ before IMC – Inter-Ministerial Committee.

On November 2 2016, theban’ was made public.

According to the law, the channel ‘NDTV India’ can take legal route and appeal on the ban imposed by the Central Government.

Also Read: Secularism & Equality in India Is Fading in the Wake of Pseudo-patriotism 

So, what were the interpretations, and analysis of the IMC – Inter-Ministerial Committee?

The Inter-Ministerial Committee which comprises of joint secretaries’ defense, home, law and justice, external affairs, I&B, consumer affairs, health and family welfare, women and child development along with the representatives of the ‘Advertising Standards Council of India’ commended that NDTV India should be taken ‘off-air’ for a day.

The IMC perceived in their report to the I&B ministry that revelation of sensitive data has numerous consequences and upshots such as causing alarm amongst the security forces and citizens as well as collateral harm to critical assets, while causing fear among families of those serving in the combat.

Also Read: India vs Pakistan War post Uri Attack? This Is Not Bollywood! 

Why the One-day Penalty on the Channel?

Initially, the IMC relied on the guidelines which gave the ministry to suspend the channel for 30 days in case of first violation and 90 days in the case of second violation. (OpIndia)

However, the Information and Broadcasting ministry informed the IMC that the rule which was violated was only introduced 6 months ago (June 2015), and since this was the first violation, the 30 day ban seemed a bit too harsh. This is the reason why they settled for a one-day penalty.

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