Why NDTV India may go off air for a day

According to reports the channel might not be aired on 9 November

NDTV India, the group’s Hindi news channel might not see the light of the day for a day. Why?  An Inter-ministerial committee of the information and broadcasting ministry found that the channel flouted norms while covering the Pathankot terror attack. It apparently revealed “strategically-sensitive” details while covering the Pathankot terrorist attack.

The channel might be taken off air on 9 November, reported PTI quoting “people aware of the development, in what would be the first order against a broadcaster over its coverage of terrorist attacks.” The channel hasn’t yet responded.

The matter pertains to the coverage of the Pathankot terror attack by the channel where 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 the national security, but also to lives of civilians and defence personnel.”

When the combing operation against the terror attack in Pathankot was being reported, it reportedly revealed crucial information about ammunition stockpiled in the airbase, MIGs, fighter-planes, rocket-launchers, mortars, helicopters, fuel-tanks etc. “which was likely to be used by the terrorists or their handlers to cause massive harm”.

Official sources said that as the content appeared to be violative of the programming norms, a show cause notice was issued to the channel. In its reply, the channel replied that it was a case of “subjective interpretation” and the most of the information they had put out was already in public domain in print, electronic and social media.

The committee, in its order, however observed 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. The panel expressed “grave concern” that this was a matter of national security and that the channel had revealed sensitive details like location of ammunition depot viz-a-viz the space where the terrorists were holed up, location of school and residential areas.

“Such crucial information could have been readily picked by their handlers, which had the potential to cause massive harm not only to the national security, but also to lives of civilians and defence personnel,” the committee said disagreeing with the channel’s contention that similar content was carried by newspapers.

This is not the first time the I&B Ministry has cracked down on the channel. Last year, it had got another showcause notice asking why it shouldn’t be taken off air for its coverage of Yakub Menon’s hanging. The Ministry had raised questions about an interview of Yakub Memon’s lawyer on NDTV in which he talks against the Mumbai blast convict’s death sentence.

With inputs from PTI