NBA issues advisory to its members regarding reporting of Ayodhya matter

MUMBAI: The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has issued an advisory to its members regarding the reporting of Ayodhya matter pending in the Supreme Court.

In the advisory, NBA secretary-general Annie Joseph stated that it is incumbent on the news broadcasters to take extra care and be cautious while telecasting news relating to sensitive and emotive matters.

She further stated that the basic guideline to be adhered to during telecasting news is respect of the above issue is that all such news should conform strictly to subserving the public interest of maintaining communal harmony and preservation of the secular ethos of the country.

In view of the sensitive nature of the Ayodhya issue, reporting requires adherence to the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards and certain specific guidelines issued from time to time in this regard, she said.

“It is, therefore, necessary that all news broadcasters should not only ensure strict compliance of the guidelines but should also ensure that no occasion arises for any speculation about the accuracy, neutrality and impartiality of the content,” Joseph added.

Some additional specific guidelines to be observed in relation to the telecast of news in this matter are as follows:

  1. No broadcast should be made in any speculative manner in respect of the present proceedings before the Hon’ble Supreme Court nor of the judgement, before it is pronounced; and of its likely consequence thereafter which may be sensational, inflammatory or provocative.
  2. No news in relation to the present proceedings pending before the Hon’ble Supreme Court shall be broadcast unless the reporter and/or editor have adequately ascertained the accuracy, authenticity and correctness of what is reported, preferably from Court records, or at the very least, by being personally present during such proceedings.
  3. For clarity and adherence it is emphasized that programmes/telecast should not speculate on issues relating to the Ayodhya judgement or its repercussions.
  4. No footage of the demolition of the Babri Masjid is to be shown in any news item relating to the Ayodhya matter.
  5. No visuals need be shown depicting celebration or protest by persons in respect of the Ayodhya matter.
  6. In view of the sensitivity of news reporting on this issue, extra care should be taken to ensure accuracy by vetting and clearance at the highest editorial level.
  7. Telecast of any news/programme must not give any impression of bias or prejudice in favour of or against any community.
  8. Care should be taken to ensure that no opportunity is given to anyone to express any extreme view, including in debates in order to influence the viewers.
  9. Debates which are provocative and inflammatory and likely to create tension in the public should be avoided.

The NBA asked editors to ensure strict adherence to these guidelines to avoid any violation which may attract strict action. “It is hoped that every channel will adhere strictly to the Code of Ethics, Guidelines/Advisory and give no occasion for the NBSA to examine any allegation of violations by the Member channels,” the advisory reads.

“This occasion is a challenge, as well as an opportunity to the Member channels to prove the efficacy of the self-regulatory mechanism. It is hoped that the opportunity would not be lost.”

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