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Govt insists NDTV India apologise for Pathankot coverage

NEW DELHI: The government is insistent on Hindi news channel NDTV India tendering an apology for allegedly violating the telecast norms during the Pathankot terror attack last year.

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s (MIB) one-day blackout order against New Delhi Television (NDTV) India would be reversed if the channel offered an apology, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Friday.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan that the news channel must clearly state that it regretted the unfortunate incident that had led the government to pass a direction for the news channel to go off air for a day in November last year, PTI reported.

Appearing for NDTV India, senior advocate Harish Salve said that the channel was ready to furnish a letter clarifying that it carried out responsible journalism.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on 31 March.

As reported earlier, NDTV had moved the Supreme Court against the MIB’s order banning its Hindi news channel NDTV India for a day on 9 November for alleged violation of the content code.

The news broadcaster challenged the constitutional validity of the ban. The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) of the MIB had recommended taking NDTV India off the air for a day for its Pathankot attack coverage as it had compromised the security of the country.

In its response, NDTV had contended that the information it had provided in the coverage had already been in the public domain. The news broadcaster said that it was being singled out by the government when other media platforms had shared the same information in their reports on the attack.

Despite NDTV’s pleading, the MIB went ahead and directed it to stop the transmission or re-transmission of the channel for one day from 00:01 hours on 9 November 2016 until 00:01 hours on 10 November 2016.

Various media bodies had come out in support of NDTV India while imploring the government to withdraw its order in the interest of free speech. Subsequently, the MIB put the ban in abeyance.

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