Broadcasters Must Exercise Extreme Caution When Airing Content

The Delhi High Court has ruled that a professional broadcaster is obligated to take minimum of safeguards while transmitting anything that may cause discomfort and disturb the sensibilities of a "ordinary and cautious viewer."

The statement was made by Justice Yashwant Varma while rejecting a petition brought by TV Today Network Limited contesting an order issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in March this year imposing a warning penalty under the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.

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The incident was connected to a telecast aired by India Today in February last year depicting an elephant being cruelly tortured by its keepers.
Taking note of a complaint, the Ministry issued the contested order after putting the channel on notice.

During the hearing, the Court stated that it was not disputed that the visual snippets that were originally broadcasted were not blurred, nor did the channel advise the audience to exercise caution in light of the caregivers' cruel actions and the anguish of the animal that was portrayed.

"Viewed in light of those admitted facts, the Court finds no justification to interfere with the order impugned," the Court stated.

"While the act of the petitioner in bringing that incident to the notice of the viewers and thus highlighting the issue of cruelty towards animals is not intended to be deprecated, the Court would have hoped that a professional broadcaster would have borne in mind the minimum precautions which must be exercised while broadcasting content which may cause distress and disturb the sensibilities of an ordinary and prudent viewer," it further added.


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