Two leading Malayalam news channels, Asianet News and Media One and are banned from airing for 48 hours from 7.30 PM this night on account of their reporting on Delhi riots. The Ministry of information and broadcasting claimed that these two channels violated the model code of conduct in airing the news. Both orders were signed by Amit Katoch. Ironically Asianet News is owned by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Rajya Sabha Member, Rajeev Chandrasekhar who also runs the Pro-BJP Republic TV channel.

Following strong protest from across the country, the government on Saturday lifted the 48-hour ban imposed on Friday on two Malayalam news channels for reportage that could “enhance communal disharmony” across the country, sources said.

The ban on Asianet News was lifted at 1.30 am, while the ban on Media One was lifted at 9.30 am on Saturday, a source at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting told PTI.

Sources said the two channels had written to the ministry seeking revocation of the bans, following which it was lifted.

The channels were suspended for 48 hours over their coverage of last month’s communal violence in Delhi, with the official orders saying they covered events on February 25 in a manner that “highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community”.

“Channel’s reporting on Delhi violence seems to be biased as it is deliberately focusing on the vandalism of CAA supporters,” the ministry order on Media One had said. “It also questions RSS and alleges Delhi Police inaction. Channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS.”

The ministry ordered prohibition of transmission or re-transmission of Media One and Asianet News for 48 hours on any platform throughout India with effect from 7.30 pm on Friday to 7.30 pm on Sunday.

Here is the order served to Asianet News (Download PDF)

WHEREAS it had come to the notice of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting that Asianet News channel telecast news reports on North-East Delhi violence on 25.02.2020 at 18:58:34 – 19:09:19, 00:10:45 Hrs.

WHEREASAsianet News channel reported that riots continued in Delhi and death toll has reached 10. Armed rioters were attacking people after asking their religion. Hundreds of shops, houses and vehicles were set on fire and 160 people were injured in the riots. The rioters took over the streets as the Police remained mute spectator. Curfew was imposed in North East Delhi for a month. Channel correspondent PR Soni reported that violence continued at Jaffrabad like the previous day and rioters ruled the streets at Jaffrabad, Ashok Nagar and Maujpur. Delhi Police were mute spectators when rioters set ablaze mosques at Jaffrabad and Maujpur. Fire tenders reached after two hours to put the fire of the mosque. Rioters blocked the commuters and attacked them after questioning their religion. Houses of Mudims were attacked at Hindu majority areas and Muslims retaliated. Rioters were firing at each other in the streets. Violence erupted the previous day has turned into communal violence after a section of Hindus chanted Jai Sri Ram and Muslims chanted Azadi slogans. Hundreds of shops, houses and vehicles were burnt down. A Petrol pump was set on fire. As the violence continued for the third day, no action was taken to contain the violence. The Central Government did not act to control the riots. Central forces reached the riot hit areas after long hours of the meeting of Union Minister Amit Shah. Delhi witnesses such a large riot after 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The violence continued and the fire on many vehicles has not been doused.

WHEREAS it appeared that telecast of reports on North-East Delhi violence had been shown in a manner which highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community.

WHEREAS, the said news reports telecast by Asianet News TV channel appeared to violate the following provisions of the Cable Television Networks Rules, t994:

Rule 6(1Xc) provides that no programme should be carried in the cable service which Contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes;

Rule 6(1Xe) provides that no programme should be carried in the cable service which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promote anti-national attitudes;

Whereas, the Ministry had also issued an Advisory on 25.02.2020 in the matter advising the channels to strictly abide by the Programme Code of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.

WHEREAS, a show cause notice (SCN) dated 28.02.2020 was issued to Asianet News Channel whereby it was called upon to show cause as to why action as per the provisions of Uplinking/Downlinking Guidelines, the terms and conditions of the permission granted and the provisions of Section 20 of the Cable Act should not be taken against it.

WHEREAS, responding to the SCN, the channel, vide its letter dated 03.03.2020, has submitted following comments: i. They have not violated the Programme Code prescribed in Cable Television Networks Rules, L994. The reports published by them were factual and never intended to attack religions or communities by word or gesture. They have published the news stories with due care and caution and with utmost restraint after verifying the factual situation from the official authorities. ii. The allegations that telecast of reports on North East Delhi violence has been shown in a manner which highlights the attack on places of worship and siding with a particular community is incorrect and hence denied. The reports on North West Delhi violence on 25.2.2020 were impartial and true reports of the untoward incidents that took place in the particular area wherein their reporters and crew were physically present. They never intended to cause publication of report siding towards a particular community. The reports regarding the violence on 25.02.2020 by anti-social elements, irrespective of their community or religion were telecast by all media including Asianet News. This was all in accordance with their obligation as a responsible and experienced Media organization that upholds the values enshrined in the Constitution to safeguard their great democracy. They have been reporting news from 1995. During the last 25 years they have acquired acceptance and credibility as a responsible media and are much ahead of all other news channels in Kerala as far as viewership is concerned. They have reported riots and human tragedies across the state, country and abroad respecting the sensitivity and sensibility involved. Never in the past were they accused of violation of any rule or code. iii. Asianet News was reporting and monitoring the violence in Delhi from 23.02.2020 with utmost care, caution in compliance with the provision Cable Television Networks Rules, L994. On 24th also, their two correspondents were on field and exhibited restraint to avoid any provocation while reporting facts.

On 25th, three reporters were in the field, reporting various incidents and updating the situation. They reported about a huge crows coming there chanting religious slogans and even threatening media persons. The crow went inside Ashok Nagar area destroying a place of worship. This happened when there were no policemen in the area and even after two policemen came, they were helpless. They reported these facts with a bona fide intention to solicit immediate intervention of authorities to save lives and property of innocent people including women and children.-These facts were reported from the field risking the life of reporters and crew with an object to bring to the notice of the authorities and public regarding the serious nature of violence and the need to protect the life and property of innocent people living in the locality irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or community. All these were done to discharge their social obligation as a responsible news channel.

On 25.02.2020, they had also telecast the interviews of victims of Maujpur who belong to the majority community. They recorded interviews of residents of Yamuna Vihar too who belong to majority community. All reports were prepared by the same reporters without favoring any particular community. Even before receiving this notice, they were airing stories narrating the brotherhood between the two communities in the same locality and their appeal for peace and harmony. In addition, they have covered the miseries and sufferings of victims belonging to both sides and did a special 30 minutes episode with all versions and with an appeal to maintain peace and harmony. They mentioned the destruction of religious places in one or two areas and this was reported by National and International channels also. Their reporters even made efforts to rescue a 14 year old boy who was shot by alerting authorities and this boy is recovering now at GTB hospital. All these are positive gestures of Asianet News to uphold the sovereignty, integrity, security, secularism and public order of our Great Nation.

No words in their reports were contemptuous of any religious group or which promotes communal attitudes. They never meant, or had any intention, to air any programme which contained attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups which promoted communal hatred.

They have not done any programme intentionally to incite violence or contain anything against maintenance of law and order which promotes anti-national attitudes.

viii. The entire news stories were aired strictly following the advisory dated 25.02.2020. They are a quarter century old organization that has set an example in responsible journalism. If the Ministry still feel that they have touched the threshold, this was done inadvertently and as submitted earlier, with a positive intention only. ix, Without prejudice to the above, if the Ministry feels that if any of the reports on North East Delhi violence was telecast in violation of the provisions of Rules 6(1Xc) and 6(1Xe ), they hereby tender their unconditional apology and regrets. x. In view of the above facts and without prejudice, it is requested to appreciate their submission above and accept their contention that they have not acted in contravention of Rules 6(1Xc) and 6(1Xe ), of the Cable Television Networks Rules, L994 or committed any acts to attract the provision of Section 20 of the Act 1995. Therefore, it is prayed that all further proceedings on the basis of the SCN dated 28.02.2020 may be dropped. The CD containing the cited telecast was examined in the Ministry. It is stated that the anchor/correspondent of the channel made the following remarks:

The violence of the previous day has continued from morning. The violence turned into communal violence after a group of Hindu people chanted Jai Sri Ram and the Muslims chanted Azadi slogans. The commuters on the roads are forced to chant Jai Sri Ram. Muslims are brutally attacked. Union Home Ministry claims that 33 company central forces are deployed, but still violence continues in the areas. The Centre can control the violence within hours, but no action has been taken till now. The correspondent says the Centre give silent consent for the violence. The violence has turned out to a communal riot from yesterday itself. I have witnessed the attack on Muslims. The rioters asked my religion. I have not seen such a situation in Delhi and I was forced to disclose my religion to continue reporting. Earlier in Delhi, Sikh riots had happened in 1984. Today we witness a similar situation. In the morning I travelled to Jafrabad area, There I saw a boy who was shot at 11 o’clock in the morning. Not even a policeman went to that area till 4.45 in the evening. There was no ambulance to shift the boy to a hospital. The Police can stop the violence, Earlier police have stopped such incidents. Army may be deployed to control the violence. But no such decisions have been taken. tJnion Home Minister announced that central forces will be deployed and the situation is under control. But the situation is getting worse in the riot hit area. Central forces reach the riot hit areas after long hours of the meeting of Union Minister. The Centre has rejected Delhi Chief Minister’s request to deploy central forces.

The Union Ministry claimed that 33 company central forces were deployed but still violence continues in the area and also the Centre gave silent consent for the violence.

While reporting such critical incident, the channel (Asianet News T\/) should have taken utmost care and should have reported it in a balanced way. Such reporting could enhance the communal disharmony across the country when the situation is highly volatile. The Ministry has time and again issued Advisories to all News Channels to comply by the provisions of the rules. Due care and responsibility is expected while reporting news based on such incidents. However, it is abundantly clear that the channel has not adhered to the Programme codes and has shown irresponsibility by not fully complying to them. The Ministry has come to the conclusion that Asianet News TV channel had violated Rule 6 (1) (c)& (e) of the Programme Code prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the rules framed thereunder by telecasting said news regarding the Nofth East Delhi violence’

WHEREAS, as per para 5.2 of the Guidelines for Uplinking from India, one of the basic conditions/obligations of the company permitted to uplink registered channels is that the company shall comply with the Programme Code prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and rules framed thereunder;

WHEREAS, as per para 8.1 of the said guidelines, in the event of a channel found to have been/being used for transmitting any objectionable/unauthorized content inconsistent with public interest, the Central Government has the power to revoke the permission granted;

WHEREAS, as per para 8.2 of the said uplinking guidelines, the Central Government has the power to impose penalties for violation of any of the terms and conditions or other provisions of the said guidelines;

WHEREAS, in case of violation of Programme Code this Ministry has powers to suspend the permission of uplinking granted to a company for a period of 30 days in the event of first violation as per para 8.2.1, for 90 days in the event of second violation as per para 8.2.2 and revocation of permission of the company and prohibition of broadcast up to the remaining period of permission in the event of third violation as per para 8.2.3 of the said uplinking guidelines;

WHEREAS, sub-section (2) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 provides that where the Central Government thinks it necessary or expedient so to do in the interest of the (i) sovereignty or integrity of India; or (ii) security of India; or (iii) friendly relations of India with any foreign State; or (iv) public order, decency or morality, it may, by order, regulate or prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of any channel or programme;

WHEREAS, sub-section (3) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 provides that where the Central Government considers that any programme of any channel is not in conformity with the prescribed programme code referred to in section 5 or the prescribed advertisement code referred to in section 6, it may by order regulate or prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of such programme;

AND WHEREAS, the Competent Authority has decided to impose a penalty of prohibition of transmission/re-transmission of Asianet News TV channel on anv platform throughout the Territory of India for a period of 48 hours;

Now, Therefore, the Central Government in exercise of the powers conferred by sub section (2) & (3) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and under paras 8.1 & 8.2 of the guidelines for uplinking from India, orders to prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of Asianet News TV channel for 48 hours on any platform throughout India with effect from 19:30:00 hrs.on 06thMarch, 2O2O till 19:30:00 hrs.on 8thMarch | 2O2O.

Order served to Media One TV (Download PDF)

WHEREAS it had come to the notice of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting that Media One W channel telecast news reports on North-East Defhi violence on 25.02.2020 at 06:10:02-06:47:07 and 00:30:22Hrs.

WHEREAS, Media One channel while reporting on Delhi violence in its Bulletin carried a phone-in of its Delhi correspondent Hassanul Banna saying that vandals fired at an anti-CM protest site from a rooftop from 2 pm to 9 pm and around 5 anti-CM protesters were injured. Police refused to visit the spot and nob the vandals. Accoding to anti-CM protesters, police were present there the previous day during the Bharat Bandh called by Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekar Azad. Vandals also set ablaze tents set up by anti-CRn protesters in Chand Bagh. Vandals have succeeded in pushing back protesters from three protest sites by unleashing violence. The police were seen supporting people who were in favour of CM. The channel alleged that Delhi Police remained inactive during violence, vandalised the shops and fruit carts and set them ablaze. The channel also reported that violence took place mostly in Muslim dominated area of Chand Bagh, Delhi. While telecasting the news, the channel carried the news of stone pelting, arson and injured people being taken to hospital.

WHEREAS it appeared that telecast of reports on North-East Delhi violence had been shown in a manner which highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community. Channel’s reporting on Delhi violence seems to be biased as it is deliberately focusing on the vandalism of CM supporters. It also questions RSS and alleges Delhi Police inaction. Channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS.

Whereas such telecast could incite violence and pose danger to maintenance of law and order situation, particularly when the situation is already highly volatile and charged up and riots are taking place in the area with reports of killings and bloodbath; and it could also stoke the feelings of anger, hatred and animosity among the communities and hurt their religious sentiments which could ultimately result into escalation of violence.

WHEREAS, the said news reports telecast by Media One W channel appeared to violate the following provisions of the Cable Television Networks Rules, L994:
(
Rule 6(1Xc) provides that no programme should be carried in the cable seruice which Contains attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes;

Rule 6(1Xe) provides that no programme should be carried in the cable seruice which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promote anti-national attitudes;

Whereas, the Ministry had also issued an Advisory on 25.02.2020 in the matter advising the channels to strictly abide by the Programme Code of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.

WHEREAS, a show cause notice (SCN) dated 28.02.2020 was issued to Media One Channel whereby it was called upon to show cause as to why action as per the provisions of Uplinking/Downlinking Guidelines, the terms and conditions of the permission granted and the provisions of Section 20 of the Cable Act should not be taken against it.

WHEREAS, responding to the SCN, the channel video its letter dated 03.03.2020 has submitted following comments: i. The Ministry’s Show Cause Notice (SCN) and the contents thereof are insufficient as to what the Ministry is advertising to in particular. The news statements or the visuals at the particular newscasts in question which allegedly constitute breach of Rule 6 (c) of (e) are lacking in the S.C. N, in the absence of which it is not possible to furnish a proper and comprehensive explanation. Therefore it is requested to provide the specific statements or visuals, which according to the Ministry constitute violation of Rule 6(c) or (e). ii. The Notice stating the timing of the telecast of the news in question is not correct. On facts, the notice says that the timing of the incident was at 00:03 am. In fact there was a commercial break from 00:29 to 00:32 after which there was a recorded program “Weekend Arabia”. iii. There was no restriction on journalists or common people from entering the areas where violence was taking place and no prohibitory order was there in force. Even the Advisory sated 25.02.2020 referred to in the SCN was general in nature in terms of Rule 6 (c) and (e) of the Rules and there was no specific direction as issued in some other instance earlier. iv. The notice admits that Media One was reporting about the violence while agitation against and in favour of CM was taking place in north east Delhi. It is a fact that mass rallies, sit-in agitations etc. against CM ry35 taking place all over India and violence occurred only in north east Delhi where, as you have stated “people who were in favour of CAA” also were present.

V. It is reiterated that the news reports telecast by Media One about the incident, which happened in north east Delhi do not constitute any breach of Rule L994, It is the lawfully accepted due of the media under Article 19 (1) (a) read with Article 15(2) of the Constitution of India to bonafide investigate and report news truly and correctly. They have only discharged that duff. Rule 6 (c) and (e) are subject to the fundamental rights under the Constitution of India. As a recognized news channel, the news in question telecast by Media One is in exercise of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India.

Before the Ministry takes any further step in pursuance to the Show Cause Notice, there is a legal requirement of natural justice which cannot be done merely by exchange of SCN and reply within 48 hours.

The allegations made in para 2 of the SCN are not correct, and are arbitrary and unreasonable. The Ministry has conveniently omitted to consider several news reports telecast by us on 25.02.2020. They had reported that the Government has appreciated the situation and are doing everything possible to curb violence and bring the situation under control. It was reported by them that the Police have set up barricades and had reported that the Home Ministry should give stringent instruction to the police to act responsibly to ensure law and order. They have also repeatedly explained the steps taken by the authorities to ensure peace and order. The news reports regularly covered orders to deploy paramilitary force and announcement of curfew in several places. The directions of the Central Government of stringent actions were included in the headlines. They also reinforced the Government’s determination to end violence. These parts of the news reports were not considered by the Ministry while issuing the SCN. Instead one sided, discriminatory allegations are made against, which is unreasonable, unjustified and illegal. The Government has to act fairly and reasonably, and consider all the facts, material and circumstances it is submitted.

The allegations made in para 2 of the SCN and the truth thereof are matters of record in videos recorded and telecast by several other new channels and newspaper reports. Journalists, TV crews on the spot had given live reports about the incidents. Further the local residents also were witnesses to the incidents. Their evidence also is necessary and we are prepared to furnish, for which an opportunity has to be given.

Their report was similar to other reports. They did not incite violence which took place and the situations getting out of hands, it is necessary to emphasize that there is no incitement on the part of their channel which is dedicated to inform the public. Nor are there any particulars relating thereto alleged in the notice.

x. The actual contents of the programme reports are based on the eye witnesses account and what the journalist saw. It is similar to other reports. They have maintained what was reported to them and what they saw. xi. It was widely reported by many that the riots happened to be planned. Former Commissioner of Police such as Mrs. A.R. Sharma had indicated that the situation was out of control and the Police should have acted earlier. The Chief Minister of Delhi has also made a statement that those who indulged in violence are outsiders which means that the violence was pre-planned. By targeting them, the Ministry is acting malafide and discriminatory. What they reported was already in public domain. xii. With respect, there cannot be any coercive action in pursuance of the SCN without the due process of law.

xiii. They demand a proper hearing in person. This is a matter to be adjudicated on the basis of evidence to be collected from local residents, journalists, who were broadcasting and telecasting the events live, including our reporters and photographs of the events published in newspaper, international media, comments of other Countries, foreign press reporters etc. Since that matter involves a substantial question of freedom of press guaranteed under the Constitution, a detailed adjudication is necessary. The CD containing the cited telecast was examined in the Ministty. It is stated that the anchor/correspondent of the channel made the following remarks:

It seems the vandals and police are hand in glove.

Govt has not taken initiative for any talks with anti-6,44 protesters and only courts have given ear to the anti-dA protesters. Govt”s cold shouldered approach towards anti-AA protesters is the main reason behind ongoing protests in the national capital. The provocative speech of BJP leader in Jafrabad has led to the violence and it seems vandals were prepared to target anti-CAA protesters. Delhi Police has failed to register an FIR for hate speech. AAP Govt in Delhi has also failed the people by not taking a stand on Delhi violence. But most significant thing is the inefficiency of Delhi Police in containing the violence. In many areas Police paved the way for uandals to roam free with weapons and carry out attacks and arson.

Union Home Ministry has stated that the situation is under control but in reality the situation is getting out of hand.

Such reporting could enhance the communal disharmony across the country when the situation is highly volatile. The Ministry has time – and again issued Advisories to all News Channels to comply by the provisions of the rules. Due care and responsibility is expected while reporting news based on such incidents. However, it is abundantly clear that the channel has not adhered to the Programme codes and has shown irresponsibility by not fully complying to them. After careful consideration of the case on the whole, the Ministry has come to the conclusion that Media One TV channel had violated Rule 6 (1) (c) & (e) of the Programme Code prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the rules framed thereunder by telecasting said news regarding the Nofth East Delhi violence.

WHEREAS, as per para 5.2 of the Guidelines for Uplinking from India, one of the basic conditions/obligations of the company permitted to uplink registered channels is that the company shall comply with the Programme Code prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and rules framed thereunder;

WHEREAS, as per para 8.1 of the said guidelines, in the event of a channel found to have been/being used for transmitting any objectionable/unauthorized content inconsistent with public interest, the Central Government has the power to revoke the permission granted;

WHEREAS, as per para 8.2 of the said uplinking guidelines, the Central Government has the power to impose penalties for violation of any of the terms and conditions or other provisions of the said guidelines;

WHEREAS, in case of violation of Programme Code this Ministry has powers to suspend the permission of uplinking granted to a company for a period of 30 days in the event of first violation as per para 8.2.1, for 90 days in the event of second violation as per para 8.2.2 and revocation of permission of the company and prohibition of broadcast up to the remaining period of permission in the event of third violation as per para 8.2.3 of the said uplinking guidelines;

WHEREAS, sub-section (2) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 provides that where the Central Government thinks it necessary or expedient so to do in the interest of the (i) sovereignty or integrity of India; or (ii) security of India; or (iii) friendly relations of India with any foreign State; or (iv) public order, decenry or morality, it may, by order, regulate or prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of any channel or programme;

WHEREAS, sub-section (3) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 provides that where the Central Government considers tnaf any programme of any channel is not in conformity with the prescribed programme code referred to in section 5 or the prescribed advertisement code referred to in section 6, it may by order regulate or prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of such programme;

AND WHEREAS, the Competent Authority has decided to impose a penalty of prohibition of transmission/re-transmission of Media One TV channel on any platform throughout the Territory of India for a period of 48 hours;

Now, Therefore, the Central Government in exercise of the powers conferred by sub section (2) & (3) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and under paras 8.1 & 8.2 of the guidelines for uplinking from lndia, orders to prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of Media One TV channel for 48 hours on any platform throughout India with effect from 19:30:00 hrs. on 05th March, 2O2O till 19:30:00 hrs. On 08h March, 2O2O. This issues with the approval of the Competent Authority.


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