NBSA directs news channels to be extra cautious while reporting on Ayodhya
The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has issued a set of specific guidelines for news broadcasters regarding the reporting of the Ayodhya issue currently being heard by the Supreme Court on a daily basis.
In its advisory, NBSA said, “Being a visual medium, the electronic media is a powerful tool and the information disseminated by it has wide impact and it plays an important role in the formation of public opinion.”
The Authority further said that 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.
The advisory stated, “Extra care and caution needs to be exercised to ensure that the telecast of any news relating to it should not be sensational, inflammatory or provocative. 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 sub-serving the public interest of maintaining communal harmony and preservation of the secular ethos of the country.”
The NBSA also issued some additional specific guidelines to be observed in relation to the telecast of news in the Ayodhya matter, which are as follows:
- 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.
- 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.
- For clarity and adherence, it is emphasised that programmes/ telecast should not speculate on issues relating to the Ayodhya judgement or its repercussions.
- No footage of the demolition of the Babri Masjid is to be shown in any news item relating to the Ayodhya matter.
- No visuals need be shown depicting celebration or protest by persons in respect of the Ayodhya matter.
- 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.
- Telecast of any news/ programme must not give any impression of bias or prejudice in favour of, or against any community.
- 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.
- Debates which are provocative and inflammatory and likely to create tension in the public should be avoided.