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Home > News > PTI

Sting operations can't be censored: Broadcasters

December 18, 2007 16:57 IST
Last Updated: December 18, 2007 16:58 IST

Voicing concern over the Delhi High Court's suggestion to the government that sting operations be vetted before telecast, television news broadcasters on Tuesday said such a move would tantamount to censorship and unacceptable restraint on the right of free speech.

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) justified sting operations as "legitimate journalistic tool" but noted that "like all powerful tools, they have to be used with care and responsibility".

"We are aware that events of the recent past have called operations to question on the grounds of authenticity. But stray incidents do not warrant such interference, which is totally against the tenets of democracy, free speech and the freedom of the press," NBA president G Krishnan said in a statement.

He was commenting with "concern" on recent suggestion by the Delhi High Court to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to set up a committee to vet sting operations and issue no objection certificates on being satisfied that they serve the public interest, before the stories are telecast.

"We condemn the motivated reporting and attempts to fabricate news, to attempt to gain popularity at the cost of journalistic integrity. Such acts risk discrediting television news, and indeed the news media, as a whole," Krishnan said.

"But this does not mean that sting operations are wrong in principle. The NBA believes that sting operations are a legitimate journalistic tool and means of investigation," he said, adding, "but like all powerful tools they have to be used with care and responsibility."

Krishnan said the suggestion that telecast of news should receive prior permission of the government would constitute "censorship of news" and "content control" and "thereby an unacceptable restraint on the right of free speech".

Citing the case of print media where "stray incidents of irresponsible reporting cannot constitute a basis for imposing censorship" the NBA chief said similarly "such incidents of abuse of ethics cannot constitute a basis for imposing censorship upon the electronic media".

Krishnan noted that the NBA is in process of formulating a code of self regulation for news and current affairs channels.
Senior advocate and former Solicitor General Harish Salve is helping the NBA in finalising the self-regulation guidelines and grievance redressal mechanism, he said.

He said the information and broadcasting ministry has been encouraging of NBA's endeavour towards self-regulation."We trust the government will view the present suggestion in the same supportive spirit and resist attempts and suggestions to interfere with the press," he added.

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