The government on Thursday directed television channels not to broadcast scenes of the Mumbai terror attack as it may evoke strong sentiments among those affected by it. "Gory scenes should not be shown, tragedy should not be replayed," said the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in its advisory adding, "the media has a great role to play to ensure return of normalcy."
Following a meeting late on Wednesday night, Information and Broadcasting Ministry officials decided to send an advisory to all television channels which included certain guidelines regarding coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks.
The advisory sought an assurance that channels would avoid running stories pertaining to the recent attacks, which might make the terrorists feel that their operation was successful. The live coverage of terror attacks in Mumbai last week saw the viewership of 24-hour news channels jump 180 per cent, according to Television Audience Measurement data for the week ended November 29.
Explaining the kind of coverage sought by the ministry, the advisory stated: "News coverage pertaining to the event should project that India is not demoralised and has risen despite all terrorist attacks as normalcy has been restored. News coverage should project that India is a global power which has full support of the international community."
The advisory also mentioned that media is a harbinger of peace and normalcy and should not promote "insecurity". The official note from the ministry carries a strong message for the media to adhere to self-regulation.
A senior I & B ministry official told PTI that the coverage of the Mumbai incident was done in a responsible manner by the national media. "However we felt compelled to issue the advisory so as to remind the media that it should cover the related developments in a manner which is sensitive towards the feelings of the terror victims," he said.
Copies of the advisory were sent to all television channels and to the News Broadcasters Association and the Indian Broadcasters Foundation.
"A copy of the advisory reached our office this morning. We have sent this out to 42 broadcasters registered with us who run over 200 channels," said IBF officials.
The I & B ministry had issued a notice to India TV last week for broadcasting a telephonic conversation with two terrorists involved in the attacks, while they were holed up inside the Taj Hotel and Nariman House.
The ministry's contention was that by doing this, the channel had given the terrorists a platform to air their views. The channel on its part claimed that by showing the conversation they provided the authorities with vital clues about the origin and nationality of the terrorists.