The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Friday issued an advisory to private television channels, asking them to adhere to Rule 6 of the Programme Code under the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995.

The ministry drew attention to the provisions that no programme should contain anything that is obscene, defamatory, or deliberate and false innuendoes and half truths. The ministry also highlighted the provisions that no content should criticise, malign or slander any individual in person or certain groups, segments of social, public and moral life of the country.

The ministry’s advisory also mentioned a Delhi High Court order from September 17. “As far as the prayer made for interim relief in the application by the petitioner, it is hoped that the media houses and the television channels would show restraint in their reporting and abide by the provisions of the Programme Code as well as various guidelines, both statutory and self-regulatory, while making any report in return to the petitioner,” the court had said in its order. The ministry said all private TV channels should ensure compliance with these directives.

On September 17, the Delhi High Court had directed media houses to exercise restraint after actor Rakul Preet Singh filed a petition against unsubstantiated reports linking her with a drug case, in which Rhea Chakraborty is a prime accused. Singh argued that media reports are being run in contravention with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting guidelines.

Justice Navin Chawla asked media houses to show restraint and abide by the provisions of the Programme Code, and other guidelines both statutory and self-regulatory. Chawla noted that media has failed to self-regulate itself and might be going “haywire”. Chawla issued notice to the I&B ministry, Prasar Bharti and the Press Council of India, seeking their stand on the actor’s petition.

It asked authorities to consider Singh’s petition as a representation and expedite the redressal procedure. The court will hear the matter next on October 15.

Sushant Singh Rajput death coverage

Last month, the Bombay High Court also told the Centre that it was “surprised” that there was no provision for a statutory body to regulate electronic media. The court made the observation while hearing petitions challenging the media trial in actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

Before that, the Press Council of India had advised media organisations to adhere to journalistic standards, refrain from sensational reporting and not conduct a parallel trial in the investigation into Rajput’s death. The Network of Women in Media had also criticised media houses for targeting Rhea Chakraborty and said investigating authorities should be allowed to do their job fairly.