Govt blocks two channels for defamatory content

The ministry of information and broadcasting has imposed a one-day ban on transmission of two Assamese news channels, DY 365 TV and News Time Assam, for carrying a story alleging wrong relationship between an MLA and two young girls, including a minor.

In the order, the ministry of information and broadcasting narrated the examination of the matter by an interministerial committee set up to examine violations of programming code.

“The IMC (inter-ministerial committee) noted that the reporter of the channel chased two girls, one of whom was a minor and the channel called them mysterious girls and asked them apparently annoying, intimidating and unwarranted questions on camera which appeared to cast serious doubts on their character.

“IMC asked the representatives of the channel as to what was the purpose to cast aspersion on the character of the girls; and that the whole thing appeared to be in bad taste. The representatives clarified their position by claiming that the girls, in question, could have been sex workers who were using official red-beaconed car for safe cover.

“IMC reacted by saying that this could not be proved by the news channel in their news report. By merely casting aspersions on the girl and the MLA the channel had jeopardized the future of the girls, IMC noted that the intention of the channel appeared to be motivated as they attributed allegations of loose moral character on girls. IMC was of the view that the intention of the channel to chase the girls and to expose their faces on TV was perverted and was against all ethics of journalism. lt was a clear violation of the Rule 6(1) (a), (d) of the Programme Code.”

The Cable Television Networks Rules has the following clauses, which were found to have been violated in an official inquiry by the ministry.

Rule 6(1) (a) no programme should be carried in the cable service which offends against good taste or decency;

Rule 6(,1) (d) no programme should be carried in the cable service which contains anything obscene, defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendoes and half truths;

Rule6(1) (i) criticises, maligns or slanders and individual in person or certain groups, segments of social, public and moral life of the country;

Rule (1) (k) denigrates women through the depiction in any manner of the figure of a woman, her form or body or any part thereof in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent, or derogatory to women, or is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the Public morality or morals.

The channel replied as follows: “lt was seen that instead of the MLA, there were two girls (claiming to be the nieces of the MLA) travelling in the vehicle along with the driver. When their reporters confronted them and politely questioned them regarding such disregard to the ruling of the SC Judgment, the said girls were unable to give appropriate answers and tried to escape. with regard to the altegitions violating Rule 6(t) (i) & Rule (l) (k) of the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994, it is mentioned that no derogatory remarks were made on the two girls specifically and a general question was put in front of the viewersipublic regarding the misuse of Red Beacon Light vehicles, unauthorized use of power. The news program was only shown in good faith bonafide and in public interest in the news program for the purpose of reporting. lt is specifically and categorically denied that the news footage is against public order, decency or morality.”

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