Notices to 3 news channels: BEA to take up matter with govt

New Delhi (PTI): Broadcast Editors’ Association today expressed concern over what it said apparent tendency among governments, both at Centre and in some states, to serve notices on media organisations in a selective manner, against the backdrop of I&B ministry’s show-cause notices to three news channels over coverage of Yaqub Memon’s hanging.

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The apex body of editors of news channels in India expressed dismay over the latest notices issued to the three channels reportedly on the “questionable pretext” that their coverage of Memon’s death sentence amounted to contempt of the institution of the President as also the judiciary.

“The BEA has decided to take up this issue with the government,” a statement released here said.

The BEA also expressed concern over the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015 which limits the media coverage of anti-terrorist operations to “periodic briefings” by an officer “till such operation concludes.”

“This amended rule does not mention -1) what constitutes a terrorist operation and how it is different from any other encounter. 2) at what stage should the government notify the nature of incident to the media,” the BEA statement said. It also asked if the rules restrict only airing of the operation “till such operation is over” or does it deny the right to cover the incident.

“While the BEA does not believe in live visual coverage of terror incidents, it does believe that media coverage cannot be restricted to official briefings,” the BEA said.

There are ample self-regulatory guidelines regarding coverage of terror incidents which this body strictly adheres to, it added.

During the recent Gurdaspur terror attack, the Information and Broadcasting ministry had issued an advisory asking channels to desist from covering the incident live. Public broadcaster DD News is learnt to be among the channels that did so.

The BEA today also said that it has in its executive committee meeting on Saturday decided to take up the defamation notices issued by the Rajasthan Government to a leading news channel and privilege proceedings initiated by the UP Assembly against a Hindi news channel.

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