Media in Crisis

Sixty seven 24×7 news channels in India more often create nuisance than feeding information. Its strategies to survive in the business clouds media ethics. Result of the fight for media survival is the loss of credibility. In most of the cases news channels breach their line of control and end up in messing up others lives. The sixty hour coverage of Mumbai shootout proved to be the final warning to the media. The Government of India is ready with a law to rein in the media during the crisis hours. All socially concerned people will welcome this decision but the government will be cautioned not to use its control to crush the required media freedom.

The information & broadcasting ministry has finally put in a draft after securing the green signal from the law ministry. The draft is an amendment of the cable television network rules 1994. After receiving inputs from other ministries and public the draft will be put into final implementation. Instead of allowing news channel to cover crisis situation freely an authorized officer will provide information with footages. This is sensible and should be implemented with adequate sincerity to provide information to the public.

The programme code proposed in rule 6(1)(o) forbids telecast which:
• Contains live coverage of war, violent law and order situation or operations where security forces have to overcome terrorists or other hostile groups. However, with the approval of the authorized officer, such delayed carriage of live feed as may be specified may be permitted at its discretion.
• Contains details of identity, number and status of hostages or information regarding the number of security personnel involved or the methods employed by them in a hostage situation.
• Contains live-contact including live phone-in calls and interviews with victims or security personnel or other technical personnel involved or the perpetrators of crime,arson, violence while the violence or the criminal activity is in progress.
• Contains coverage of operational details in respect of war or any other security operations except as disclosed by the authorized officer.

The News Broadcaster Association has the same set of rules to be imposed on its members. Apart from forbidding the live telecast of terrorist operations, interview with terrorists or victims near ones the proposed law prevents channels from repeated telecast of archival footage carrying the world ‘live’.

The draft also prohibits “close-ups and extended images of blood or gore, dismembered or disfigured limbs of bodies or images of the dead or seriously wounded people or violence which may seriously distress or offend substantial number of viewers or cause public panic and incite further violence or compromise the dignity of the dead”.

It is doubt that the media must be prevailed upon to avoid heavy social damages. At the same time the Government should not misuse its media reining in act to fudge in the information. The officer in-charge should be responsible for all the information sharing. If there is any leakage of information to select channels then he should be held responsible and punished immediately. Apart from triggering government control of news flow the act may trigger a large-scale corruption in the news feed. Under these circumstances an independent media regulatory mechanisms should be put in place for the better functioning of the news channels.


1 Comment

  1. Umesh Sirsiwal said,

    +00002009-01-11T08:21:36+00:00312009bUTCSun, 11 Jan 2009 08:21:36 +0000 2, 2008 at 7.27 p01

    Media in crisis is something which can be applied to lots of media. For example look at BBC and their refusal to use “Terrorist” word for Mumbai attackers. Can anybody ever justify that. Look at this article which goes in details about the word “terrorism” and why this must be applied to Mumbai attackers. This probably is the most shameful coverage by this great news organization.

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