The Editors Guild of India on Saturday sought the withdrawal of an advisory issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on December 12, asking all private television channels to desist from broadcasting content that could incite violence or cause law and order problems, PTI reported. The advisory also asked these television channels not to telecast content that promoted “anti-national attitudes”.
The media advisory refers to the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995 to caution TV channels from broadcasting content which is “likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order”.
The advisory came in the wake of widespread, violent protests in the North East against the Citizenship Amendment Act. At least five people have been killed in Assam so far, as police and protestors have clashed over the Act.
The contentious Act grants citizenship to persecuted non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014.
The Editors Guild said that it believes that the media’s overall commitment to responsible coverage of developments in the country should not be questioned through such an advisory. “It is the media’s responsibility to report freely and truthfully and fairly,” the Editors Guild said in a statement. “The Guild decries such a regressive advisory that interferes in the functioning of a free media, and urges the government to withdraw it.”
Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien had on December 12 given a zero hour notice in the Rajya Sabha to discuss the advisory.
The Editors Guild on Saturday also demanded an inquiry into an alleged police assault on employees of the Guwahati-based Prag News, a 24×7 Assamese news channel. The Guild said the police committed “indefensible acts of violence”. A video on social media had shown policemen attacking cameramen of Prag News with batons.