The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India on Monday issued an advisory to all private satellite TV channels for adherence to programme code under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, raising serious concerns on the reporting of deaths and violence.
The advisory signed by assistant director Prateek Jain mentioned that over the last few months, several television channels including the mainstream channels have reported incidents of accidents, deaths, and violence including violence against women, children and elderly in manners which grossly compromised on “good taste and decency.”
The Ministry has observed that these reports were quite unpalatable to the eyes and ears of a common viewer, it stated.
All private television channels are strongly advised to attune their systems and practices of reporting incidents of crime, accidents and violence, including death in conformity with the Programme Code, including “(i) offends against good taste or decency, (ii) contains anything obscene, defamatory, deliberate, false and (iii) suggestive innuendos and half truths criticizes, maligns or slanders any individual in person or certain groups, segments of social, public and moral of the country (iv) is not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition,” it stated.
Television, being a platform usually watched bv families in households with people from all cohorts — old aged, middle aged. children, etc., and with various socio-economic backgrounds, place a certain sense of responsibility and discipline among the broadcasters, it stated. The responsibility and discipline have been enshrined in the Programme Code and the Advertising Code laid down under the said Act, it mentioned.
However, notwithstanding the spirit behind these Codes, television channels have shown dead bodies of individuals and images/videos of injured persons with blood splattered around, people, including women, children and elderly being beaten mercilessly in close shots, continuous cries and shrieks of a child being beaten by a teacher, shown repeatedly over several minutes including circling the actions, thereby making it even more ghastly, without taking the precaution of blurring the images or showing them from long shots, it stated.
It stated that the manner of reporting such incidents is distasteful, heart wrenching, distressful, undignifying, sensational, thereby offending good taste and decency. Such reporting also has an adverse psychological impact on the children, it added.
There is also a crucial issue of invasion of privacy which could be potentially maligning and defamatory, it stated.
In most of these cases it was also observed that these video clips, etc., have been taken by the broadcasters from social media and little effort has been made to modulate or attune or edit such clips so as to make it compliant and consistent with the spirit of the Programme Code, it stated.
Such telecast by the television channels is a matter of grave concern and the advisory has been issued in view of the larger public interest involved and having regard to the nature of the audiences of television channels including elderly, women and children, it added.