19 Nov 2017
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MIB blames news channels, may issue new advisory

MUMBAI: Justifying its show cause notices to Aaj Tak, ABP News, and NDTV 24×7, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has blamed these news channels for making Yakub Memon look like a martyr through their coverage which resulted in thousands turning up for his funeral.

According to a report in Business Standard, the ministry in a note on Monday stated that the reportage of the three channels on Memon’s hanging “constituted a serious threat to national security” and “sown the seeds of distrust between communities”.

“The result of this reportage has been that a large number of well-meaning members of the community to which Yakub Memon belonged have started feeling that he was a victim. It is for these reasons that Mumbai was tense on the date of his burial and thousands of people turned up for his burial,” the ministry said in a note.

The MIB had last week issued show-cause notices to Aaj Tak, ABP News and NDTV 24×7 for allegedly disrespecting the judiciary and the President of India through their coverage of 1993 Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon hanging.

The three channels have been asked to explain within 15 days why action should not be taken against them for broadcasting such content.

The ministry has invoked Section 1(d), Section 1(g) and Section 1(e) of Rule 6 of the Programme Code prescribed under the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 in the show-cause notice issued to the three channels.

Aaj Tak and ABP News had aired phone-in interviews of underworld don Chhota Shakeel in which he claimed that injustice was done to Yakub Memon. Shakeel had also called Yakub’s hanging as ‘a legal murder’.

NDTV 24×7 has been pulled up for airing an interview of Yakub Memon’s lawyer who spoke about how many countries have done away with the death penalty.

“The common thread running through the entire reporting by these channels was to convey to the viewers that unfairness has been done to Yakub Memon. The tenor of discussion has been that it is only against people belonging to one community who are executed while others manage to get relief from the Supreme Court or the government,” the note read.

Another report in The Times of India states that the government is considering issuing a second advisory for news channels asking them not to divulge operational details of the terror operations.

The MIB had issued an advisory in the wake of Gurdaspur terror attack asking private news & current affairs television channels to “desist” from engaging in live coverage of the anti-militant operations with “immediate effect”.

Meanwhile, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has urged the MIB to withdraw the show cause notices issued and refer them to the New Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), which would consider them under its regulations.

“News Broadcasters Association (NBA) is deeply concerned at the show cause notices, issued to three channels NDTV 24×7/NDTV India, Aaj Tak and ABP News regarding the Yakub execution coverage and reportedly having aired phone in interviews of Chhota Shakeel on two channels, which according to the Ministry cast aspersions against the integrity of the Hon’ble President on India & the Judiciary; and can incite violence and lead to law & order problems,” the NBA said in a statement.

“Since the present Government has gone on record to state that it believes the media should be independent, without any government interference and it should self-regulate itself, NBA urges the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to withdraw the show cause notices issued and refer them to the New Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), which would consider them under its regulations.”