Proposed TV news curbs in India resisted by editors
India has seen huge proliferation of the Television news channels in last few years and they are vying strongly to get the eyeballs often adopting to low quality programming and sensationalizing news. In the recent Mumbai terror attack Indian media itself became a major news item.
The country's broadcasters were summoned by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to deal with charge that the saturation, live coverage had helped the terrorists.
India government wants to bring an amendment in the Cable Television Network Regulations Act, which will allow government to dictate television coverage during contingency situations.The proposal would make it mandatory for channels to carry only authorised video footage.
The Indian news broadcasters have taken to tackle the curb imposed on the news broadcasting industry, wherein the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) proposed amendments to the Cable Television Network Rules without taking into consideration the views of the media fraternity.
After a week of anger and anxiety since it dawned on the electronic media that the Government is set to nail them with a draconian revision that could play havoc with the running of all news networks. The proposed changes in the Cable Television Network Regulations Act, currently under the consideration of the government, have been put on hold after the broadcasters rose up in arms against the move.
Indian democracy will be damaged if the government tightens media laws in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, media groups said on Tuesday.
Television channels were criticised by security agencies for showing live pictures of November's Mumbai siege and allegedly giving away important information to the attackers trapped inside hotels and a Jewish centre.
The government now wants to amend the Cable Network Regulations (CNR) Act to give the police power to check and approve live television feeds in certain circumstances.
"We urge you to immediately suspend the proposed measures," television editors said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, calling them a "historical blunder".
Last month, the News Broadcasters Association agreed to their own set of six guidelines that include no live contact with militants or hostages, no mention of security operation details and no images of people killed.
But security agencies and the government are still not convinced that media groups will not overstep the line again.
"We have already agreed to strong guidelines and anything more will not only seriously curb democratic rights, but will gag our voices," a spokeswoman for the broadcasters said, declining to give her name.
There are more than 60 English and regional-language news channels in India fighting for the attention of advertisers and viewers in 80 million TV-owning homes.