The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Saturday said that some coverage of the Ukraine crisis and the recent violence in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri by television news channels was inauthentic and misleading.
Television channels must strictly comply with the Programme Code, the ministry has said in an advisory to the television channels. The code requires channels to avoid airing content that “offends against good taste and decency” and targets religions or communities, among other things.
The ministry withouth naming the channels said that they ran “provocative headlines and videos of violence that may incite communal hatred” while covering the Jahangirpuri communal violence, the advisory said. Certain television news outlets even aired unverified close circuit television footage, which “disrupted the investigation process,” the advisory added.
On April 16, three processions were organised by the Bajrang Dal to commemorate the Hindu festival of Hanuman Jayanti in North West Delhi’s Jahangirpuri. Residents said that participants in the processions were armed with swords and tridents, while videos also showed some of them wielding guns and shouting “Jai Shri Ram” slogans.
Violence broke out as the third procession passed a mosque. The police said Hindu and Muslim groups threw stones at each other. At least 24 suspects have been arrested for the violence.
Some channels, according to the Centre’s advisory, showed footage “of a specific community” which aggravated communal tensions, the advisory said.
The ministry also said that channels aired “fabricating headlines” like “Delhi mein Aman ke dushman kaun? [Who are the enemies of peace in Delhi?]” and “Vote Bank Vs Majoritarian Politics”, that gave a communal colour to actions by authorities. It also objected to a channel airing footage of a man “belonging to a specific community” carrying a sword. The channel, while airing this footage, claimed that the violence during a religious procession in Delhi was planned, the ministry said.
Channels also aired “instigating statements and derogatory references” in a show titled “Ali, Bajrang Bali par khalbali [Controversy on Ali and Bajrang Bali]”, the ministry alleged.
On the coverage of the Ukraine conflict, the information and broadcasting ministry said that some channels ran “scandalous headlines” that were completely unrelated to the news item. It also accused some reporters and anchors of making “fabricated and hyperbolic statements” to incite viewers.
Some television channels also made false claims and frequently misquoted international agencies and individuals, the ministry claimed.
Titles like “Ukraine mein Atomi Hadkamp [Atomic crisis in Ukraine] and “Parmanu Putin se pareshan Zelenskyy” [Zelenskyy anxious about nuclear Putin] were misleading, the ministry said.
Another show made an unverified claim that the United States’s Central Intelligence Agency believed that Russia would use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.