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Media in harness: Proposal to ban live coverage of terror acts

Media in harness: Proposal to ban live coverage of terror acts
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The need for such a ban has been felt by experts working in India’s defence sector internally and externally. Government sources have said that a proposal has been received from all spheres, including former and existing defence personnel and officers involved with national security.

It has been learnt that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh too is very concerned about such coverage, which often puts life of citizens and officers at risk, who are engaged in neutralising terror attacks in the country.

“There are proposals and the government is seriously considering the implementation of an Ordinance or a government circular with punitive measures,” sources said.

The firm stand from the government on the issue came after a section of media houses failed to adhere to the “request” from the concerned ministries. The first circular was issued during the UPA government on November 2008, which was followed by two more circulars on December 3, 2008 and on November 20, 2009.

“But unfortunately, despite repeated requests, a section of media houses continues to ignore the government’s circular, thereby hampering such sensitive operations. There are possibilities that a committee would be formed, comprising senior media professionals and security experts to finalise more stringent rules on such coverage,” sources said.

Elaborating more on the same, sources said: “There are plans to give more teeth to Clauses 5.9 and 8.1 of the up-linking guidelines and clauses 5.8 and 6.1 of the down-linking guidelines. Also, some points to Cable TV networks (regulation) Act, 1995 are to be added.”

The recent government’s directive came after some television channels covered live, the ongoing anti-terrorist operations in the Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday. The need for stringent measure to ban media for such telecast was felt during the Mumbai terror attack in 2008, where it was found that terrorists were watching security forces movement through the live telecast of media channels. The attack happened on November 26 and lasted until November 29, killing at least 165 people.

Repeated attempts to get a comment from Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore went in vain.
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