An Inter-ministerial committee of the Information and Broadcasting ministry of Government of India has recommended that New Delhi Television (NDTV)’s Hindi news channel be taken off air for a day, reports The Hindu and News 18 on Thursday. This could be the first major gag order against media in India after the Emergency in the 1970s.
Quoting Press Trust of India, the reports said after concluding that the broadcaster had revealed “strategically-sensitive” details while covering the Pathankot terrorist attack, the ministry may now ask the channel NDTV India to be taken off air for a day on November 9. PTI could not contact the channel for comments.
The ministry felt the coverage of the Pathankot terror attack by NDTV was such that “crucial information” could have been readily picked by terrorist handlers and it had the potential to “cause massive harm not only to the national security, but also to lives of civilians and defence personnel.”
When the operation was on in January this year, the channel allegedly revealed information on the ammunition stockpiled in the airbase, MIGs, fighter-planes, rocket-launchers, mortars, helicopters, fuel-tanks, etc, “which was likely to be used by the terrorists or their handlers to cause massive harm,” sources told PTI. As the content appeared to be violative of the programming norms, a show cause notice was issued to the channel, they said.
In its reply, the channel replied that it was a case of “subjective interpretation” and most of the information they had put out was already in public domain in print, electronic and social media.
The committee, in its order, however observed that the channel “appeared to give out the exact location of the remaining terrorists with regard to the sensitive assets in their vicinity” when they telecast in real time.
The panel expressed “grave concern” that this was a matter of national security and that the channel had revealed sensitive details like location of ammunition depot vis-a-vis the space where the terrorists were holed up, location of school and residential areas.
The committee disagreed with the channel’s contention that similar content was carried by newspapers.