Broadcasters' Assn sets rules of restrained reporting

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New guidelines for media
New Delhi, Dec 19: Freedom of Press seems to have a threat with the following guidelines unveiled by India's News Broadcasters Association on Thursday, Dec 18 after the Mumbai terror attacks. The guidelines are, No live reporting of hostage crises, avoiding live contact with victims, withholding sensitive information on rescue operations.

Criticisms from public and Government was seen after the media covered the sensitive event of the 60 hour terror strike. This made the self-regulation guidelines impose these guidelines. The regulation body had also threatened the media to impose an emergency protocol.

Much before the 26/11 attacks, the broadcasters' body had formulated the new guidelines. But after, the attacks, the process was quickened and implemented.

The guidelines include a self-imposed restraint by broadcasters not to disclose details of hostages and withholding sensitive information on rescue operations.

The broadcasters have also been asked to avoid live contact with victims and with security personnel engaged in security operations.

The guidelines also urge broadcasters to exercise their judgment by not airing details of identity and number of hostages and refrain from reporting or commentary that gives the impression of sympathizing with terrorists.

Unveiling the guidelines at a news conference, former Chief Justice J S Verma asked the powerful to exercise restraint.

“The judiciary and the media have become powerful organs. Once you become powerful, you must know your limits," said Verma, who heads the News Broadcasting Standards Disputes Redressal Authority.

“Self-regulation is a requirement which everyone who has considerable power must exercise. Nobody likes to be told what to do," Verma told reporters while explaining the rationale for self-regulation guidelines.

The guidelines were finalised Wednesday, Dec 17 and are aimed at ensuring that the reporting of sensitive situations like the Mumbai attacks does not jeopardise the security of the nation and is not offensive to public taste.

The guidelines, also referred to as 'emergency protocol' in media circles, are similar to the advisories issued to TV channels by the information and broadcasting ministry during and after the Mumbai terror attacks.

OneIndia News (With inputs from Agencies)

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