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'Scribes should identify themselves to sting operation targets'

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, July 3 (UNI) Journalists carrying out sting operations should identify themselves to their targets.

That sounds absurd but that is one of the provisions in the draft broadcasting code and guidelines being prepared by the Information and Broadcsating Minisrty aimed at injecting a little bit of more ethics in the functioning of the media.

The new broadcast guidelines and code will replace the existing Programme and Advertising Code.

The sub-committee of the Ministry, which is drafting the code and guidelines, debated the issue of ensuring privacy in detail at its recent meeting.

It agreed to include in the draft some guidelines which tell how the broadcasters should avoid infringing the privacy of citizens while obtaining material for their news-based programmes, a member of the committee told UNI.

The guidelines clearly mention that those who are carrying out sting operations should justify that it is in public interest.

The broadcaster should be very elaborate in showing how the infringement of the privacy of any leader or bureaucrat or any other perosn was ''warranted'' in public interest.

Moreover, the licensee should be able to demonstrate that the public interest outweigh the right to privacy, the draft says.

It says that telephone calls to the target can be recorded if its purpose is explained at the outset and it is made clear to the party that the recording might be broadcast ''unless it is warranted not to do one or more of these practices''.

The guidelines also lay down that If an individual or organisation, whose privacy is being invaded, asks for stoppage of filming, recording or telecast, the broadcaster should do so, ''unless it is warranted to continue''.

The member of the committee said the provisions were still very much subject to intense debate within the committee as it was a very sensitive issue.

''The government was, in fact, avoiding taking any clear-cut stand when it comes to news content and operations, so these provisions may not find any place in the code but in the guidelines which is just ethics,'' the member said.


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