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MIB penalises NDTV India with one-day ban for Pathankot coverage

MUMBAI: Hindi news channel NDTV India has been banned for a day by an inter-ministerial committee of the Information & Broadcasting Ministry for allegedly revealing ‘strategically sensitive’ details while covering the Pathankot terrorist attack.

The ministry is likely to direct NDTV India to be taken off air for a day on 9 November.

The ministry had issued a show-cause notice to the channel for violating the content code by providing graphic details of the anti-terror operation in Pathankot.

According to the IMC, the coverage by NDTV India had compromised the security of the country.

The committee felt that ‘such crucial information’ could have been readily picked by terrorist handlers and had the potential to “cause massive harm not only to national security, but also to the lives of civilians and defence personnel.”

The channel has been accused of revealing information on the ammunition stockpiled in the airbase, MIGs, fighter planes, rocket launchers, mortars, helicopters and fuel tanks.

In its reply, the channel had said that the matter was subjective interpretation and most of the information they had put out was already in public domain in print, electronic and social media.

The committee, however, felt that the channel “appeared to give out the exact location of the remaining terrorists with regard to the sensitive assets in their vicinity” when they telecast in real time.

“Such crucial information could have been readily picked by their handlers, which had the potential to cause massive harm not only to national security but also to the lives of civilians and defence personnel,” the committee said.

While stating that the violation stood proven beyond doubt, the committee said that the violation could even attract a penalty of taking the channel off air for 30 days. Since this is first such violation by NDTV India, the committee has recommended a token punishment.

“The IMC recommends that at least a token penalty of one day’s off-air needed to be awarded to the TV channel, so that they do not get away completely for this huge indiscretion and violation of specific rule or guideline relating to national security concerns,” the order reads.

The ministry had issued advisories to TV channels consisting dos and don’ts for covering anti-terror operations.

Meanwhile, NDTV had this to say about the MIB order.

“The order of the MIB has been received. It is shocking that NDTV has been singled out in this manner. Every channel and newspaper had similar coverage. In fact, NDTV’s coverage was particularly balanced. After the dark days of the Emergency when the press was fettered, it is extraordinary that NDTV is being proceeded against in this manner. NDTV is examining all options in this matter,” the broadcaster said in a statement.

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