New Delhi: The Narendra Modi goverment has sent showcause notices to 13 TV news channels for telecasting Pakistan army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor’s media briefing in the wake of the 14 February Pulwama attack.
The channels are Zee Hindustan, Tiranga TV, News 18, News 24, ABP News, Surya Samachar, News Nation, ABP Majha, News18 Lokmat, Jai Maharashtra, Total TV, News 18 Gujarati and Sandesh News.
In the showcause notice, the information and broadcasting ministry is learnt to have asked the TV channels to explain why action should not be taken against them for violating the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, by airing the press conference.
At the 22 February press conference, which marked the first official response of the Pakistan establishment on the Pulwama strike, Ghafoor had launched an acerbic attack on India.
“We can respond to full-spectrum threat,” he said. “I hope you (India) get (the message) and do not mess with Pakistan.
“We are not preparing for war, you (India) are issuing threats…we have right to respond to the threats,” he added.
Soon after the attack, the ministry had issued an advisory to all TV channels, asking them to refrain from telecasting content that “is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti-national attitudes”.
Citing the Programme and Advertising Code, as mentioned in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, the ministry also advised channels against telecasting content that “contains anything affecting the integrity of the nation”.
The Act empowers the central government to prohibit the operation of cable television networks in public interest, and allows it to regulate any channel or programme that it thinks may adversely impact national sovereignty or integrity, security, foreign relations, public order, decency or morality.
According to the ministry, by telecasting the Pakistani general’s speech, the television channels in question appeared to have “prima facie” violated the Code and disregarded the advisory issued by the ministry.
It added that Tiranga Channel, backed by Congress leader Kapil Sibal, did not make any intervention “on the correctness or otherwise of the claims being made in the said media briefing in order to ensure there is no violation of the aforementioned rules”. (The Print)