On a one-of-its-kind order, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has forced NDTV India channel to go off-air for 24-hours starting on 00:01 hrs on November 9 to 00:01 hrs of November 10 for allegedly revealing "strategically sensitive" details on its coverage of the Pathankot terrorist attacks earlier this year. 

 

 

The I&B Ministry has acted under the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act and has stated that it “orders to prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of NDTV India channel for one day on any platform throughout India with effect from 00:01 hrs on November 9,2016 till 00:01 hrs of November 10, 2016”.

 

 

An I&B Ministry official has revealed that this order has been issued following the recommendations by an inter-ministerial committee that concluded that NDTV's coverage of the terror attacks in Pathankot airbase revealed strategical details of security force's operations. 

 

 

The order refers to the NDTV telecast between 1225 and 1231 hours on January 4, 2016, during the counter operations by security forces in the airbase. The order states that the NDTV reporter on ground gave some “strategically sensitive information” while answering a question of the anchor.

 

 

The order further states, this telecast referred to “ammunition stockpiled in the airbase, MiGs, fighter planes, rocket launchers, mortars, helicopters, fuel tanks which was likely to be used by the terrorists themselves or their handlers to cause massive harm not only to national security, international standing of the country but also life of civilians and defence personnel.”

 

 

In the month of January, a show-cause notice was sent to the channel regarding the same and in response, NDTV claimed that much of the information telecasted was already available through electronic, print, and social media, and also that the allegations were of "subjective interpretation".  

 

 

However, the panel has remained unconvinced, and the order states that TV, unlike newspapers, as “a far wider and instantaneous impact”.

 

 

This is the first such case wherein an order has been imposed to ban a TV channel for 24-hours over terror attack coverage under specific norms notified last year. Against the order, the channel can appeal before a tribunal.

 

 

On its official statement, NDTV said “The order of the MIB has been received. It is shocking that NDTV has been singled out in this manner. Every channel and newspaper had similar coverage. In fact, NDTV’s coverage was particularly balanced. After the dark days of the Emergency when the press was fettered, it is extraordinary that NDTV is being proceeded against in this manner. NDTV is examining all options in this matter,” 

 

 

This ban on a particular channel of media has invited much discussion, criticism and social media responses by netizens.  

 

 

On its official statement, the Editors Guild Guild of India claimed that the ban is "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."
 

 

"This first-of-its-kind order to impose a blackout has seen the Central government entrust itself with the power to intervene in the functioning of the media and take arbitrary punitive action as and when it does not agree with the coverage." the statement further read. 

 

 

#NDTVbanned has already become a top trend on Twitter and the Twitterati has a mixed reaction to the ban. 

 

 

Following are a couple of Tweets that caught our attention: