The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has recommended that NDTV, a leading Hindi news channel, be taken off air for a day after it concluded that the broadcaster had revealed “strategically-sensitive” details while covering the Pathankot terrorist attack.
The I&B ministry is likely to ask the channel to be taken off air on 1 p.m. on November 9 and till 1 p.m. on November 10, in what would be the first order against a broadcaster over its coverage of terrorist attacks.
NDTV is yet to officially respond to the order.
According to a PTI report, the matter pertains to the coverage of the Pathankot terror attack by the channel where the committee felt that “such crucial information” could have been readily picked by terrorist handlers and had the potential to “cause massive harm not only to the national security, but also to lives of civilians and defence personnel.”
When the operation was underway in January this year, the channel allegedly revealed information pertaining to the ammunition stockpiled in the airbase, MIGs, fighter-planes, rocket-launchers, mortars, helicopters, fuel-tanks etc.
The information could potentially have been used by terrorists or their handlers to cause massive harm, sources told the news agency.
Official sources also stated that as the content appeared to be violation of the programming norms, a show cause notice was subsequently issued to the channel.
In its reply, NDTV said that it was a case of ‘subjective interpretation’ and a majority of the information they had put out was already in public domain in print, electronic and social media.
The committee, however, observed that the channel “appeared to give out the exact location of the remaining terrorists with regard to the sensitive assets in their vicinity” when they telecast in real time.
The panel also expressed grave concern that the channel had put national security at risk by revealing sensitive details like location of ammunition depot in relation to the space where the terrorists were holed up, location of school and residential areas.
“Such crucial information could have been readily picked by their handlers, which had the potential to cause massive
harm not only to the national security, but also to lives of civilians and defence personnel,” the committee reportedly said, disagreeing with the channel’s contention that similar content was carried by newspapers.