Various media bodies expressed concern and opposed the government decision to ban NDTV India for one day (November 9) for allegedly airing details of security operation on Pathankot air base attack.
The umbrella body of TV news channels, News Broadcasters Association(NBA), in its statement said that it was deeply concerned with the decision taken by the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) of the ministry for information & broadcasting (MoI&B).
“It is surprising to note that NDTV India has been singled out by the I&B ministry, when the rest of the media also did cover the terror attack and all such reports were available in the public domain. The IMC and the ministry of I&B should have seen it from the prism of freedom of the media, which is guaranteed in the constitution, and not gone strictly by the regulations under the Cable Act,” the NBA statement said.
It added that it would have been appropriate if the Ministry had referred the alleged violations of NDTV India to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), the independent self-regulatory body of the NBA.
Even politicians took sides on the issue. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “detaining opposition leaders, blacking out tv channels - all in a day's work in Modiji's India…shocking and unprecedented.”
The BJP also reacted sharply. "In democracy, BJP is in favour of preserving press freedom. But it is the nation first. No compromise on national security," BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma said.
BJP sources said IMC had viewed certain portions of the TV news reports as violation of the programme code as that information could have helped the terrorists. The IMC had recommended that channel be taken off for 30 days, but government reduced it to token one day, party sources said.
The Editors Guild of India also strongly condemned the “unprecedented decision” to take NDTV India off the air.
“The decision to take the channel off the air for a day is a direct violation of the freedom of the media and therefore the citizens of India and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government, reminiscent of the Emergency,” the statement said.
“Imposing a ban without resorting to judicial intervention or oversight violates the fundamental principles of freedom and justice. The Editors Guild of India calls for an immediate withdrawal of the ban order," it added.
The Broadcasters Editors Association also termed the ban a violation of freedom of expression and said that the decision should be withdrawn immediately.
The Press Club of India and the Indian Women’s Press Corps strongly condemned the decision.