Government says criticism of NDTV ban ‘politically inspired’, faces more flak ….reports Asian Lite News
The government on Saturday dismissed criticism over its move to ban for a day NDTV India news channel, terming it “politically inspired”, even as it faced fresh political flak for the move.
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, speaking to reporters in Chennai, said, “I am happy to note that the people of the country are broadly with the decision in the matter of NDTV India.”
He said the NDA government has the highest regard for media and freedom of media and would never allow any infringement on it.
“Always, there will be a minority who are critical of whatever the government does in the best interest of the country,” he said.
“The belated criticism of the action, proposed to be taken against NDTV India for violating the norms of live coverage of anti-terrorist operations by the security personnel in Pathankot in January, is clearly ill informed and politically inspired.”
He said reactions came a day after the government’s decision on November 3, and were “clearly an after-thought, suggesting a motivated design to create a controversy where none existed”.
Pointing out that the Congress-led-UPA government had ordered several television channels to go off air during 2005-14 for a period ranging from one day to two months, Naidu said the channels were banned for obscene visuals or adult rated movies.
He said the decision against NDTV India was not based on any newly invented rule and principle but based on what was clearly articulated by the Congress-led-UPA government in various advisories issued after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008.
Naidu said NDTV India has violated the government advisories and was found to be unrepentant about what they have done.
“This channel was also found to have resorted to similar violations earlier,” he said.
Naidu said the Editors Guild of India took a full day to come out with its response on the ban on NDTV India.
Earlier, in a series of tweets, Naidu had justified the ban, saying that “freedom of press is important but the country’s security can’t be compromised”.
The NDTV India channel has been asked to go off air for a day — from midnight of November 8 to midnight of November 9 — for allegedly violating norms in its coverage of the terror attack on the Pathankot Air Base in January.
Meanwhile, political parties and leaders including Congress, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Janata Dal-United leader Nitish Kumar and RJD leader Lalu Prasad strongly criticised the ban.
“It’s a message to entire Indian media — either play ball or get shot,” the Congress said.
The CPI-M condemned the ban and termed it a “brazen attack on media freedom and an attempt to gag freedom of expression”.
“It reveals the increasingly authoritarian attitude of the Modi government,” the party said.
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav said: “Ban on NDTV is an attack on democracy. This country is heading towards dictatorship…There is an emergency-like situation in the country.”
Lalu said that since NDTV channel “exposes certain people”, it has been targeted by the government.
K.C. Tyagi of the JD-U said the ban should be revoked immediately.
“This act of the government reminds me of the Emergency days,” he said.
DMK leader M. Karunanidhi termed the BJP government’s action as “transgression of the right to freedom of expression”.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar condemned the government’s decision and said that a free and impartial media is a must in any democracy.