Anti-terror operations: Govt likely to frame norms for media coverage

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New Delhi, Jan 18: Indicating that there could be soon norms for media coverage of terror-related operations, Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said that the issue is under "serious and very advanced consideration" of the government.

Delivering the first Justice J S Verma memorial lecture here, he also said that the age of ban on media organisations was over and technology had rendered censorship impossible.

Representational image

The manner in which anti-terror operations by security agencies was covered is one of the most important issues with regard to responsibility of media in contemporary times, the Minister said.

The question is whether to allow the media to go right up to the spot or if there should be constraints, he said. The I&B Minister said that intelligence agencies had claimed that real time coverage of 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai had helped the handlers of terrorists to get information about what the security agencies were doing.

"Our security agencies and the Ministry of Defence are clearly of the view that this cannot be allowed. And, therefore, during the limited duration when the security operation is on, a very strict discipline on the kind of reporting which is to take place from the place of the incident will have to be maintained," Jaitley said.

"This issue is under serious and very advanced consideration of the government," he said.

The Minister also said that while traditionally it was thought that a newspaper or a channel could be banned, the fact was that the days of ban were long over as it was now hardly possible to "victimise" media outfits through denial of advertisements. On the possibility of censorship, Jaitley said technology has made it impossible.

"Assuming that there was emergency imposed today under Article 352 of the Constitution, the impact of the censorship would be nil. The satellite itself defies geographical boundaries...the email does not allow it, the fax machine does not allow it," he said.

The Home Ministry had earlier asked the I and B Ministry to amend rules so that live coverage of anti-terror operations by television channels is banned.

PTI

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