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Media monitoring for objectionable content; brainchild of previous govt

By Vinod

New Delhi, Aug 11: With allegations against the Narendra Modi government of choking media voice in general and Union Information and Broadcasting ministry in particular by monitoring programmes of news channels and other anchor-centric programmes, the ministry officials and people involved in the activities say that these allegations are either false or half-baked truth forced to be read as truth on the face value of individuals.

Ambika Soni

Sources said that the recent allegation on the government for targeting media with the help of EMMC team the Modi government appointed 200 people to keep a watch on television channels and certain individuals.

But it needs to be scrutinized as allegation made by the person is known for his well researched programme did not bother do any research before making several comments against the team.

Sources further said that it was with the help of EMMC, the government has ensured that the broadcast has been kept away from violating national interest including national security that was compromised on many occasion.

It also tries to ensure that content is suitable for children as things like too much violence, foul language and objectionable contents of many other kind. It is not only news is monitored by EMMC but it also keeps tab on major violation by any kind of broadcast including entertainment.

Sources further said that the media monitoring was started during the time of the then Union Information and minister Ambika Soni who had on quite a few occasions accepted that she was planning an independent agency to monitor broadcast media however she had said in the same breath that it is not to target anyone.

The next time there is a terror attack, or any national crisis, there will be a nodal group in the government that will monitor media coverage. She had said in June 2009. "A nodal agency will monitor and regulate coverage during terror attacks," said Soni.

Sources said that it was during the tenure of Manish Tiwari as Information and Broadcasting minister the monitoring centre from the ITO that was set up during Soni's time has been shifted to the present location from where it is functioning now.

Most of the around 200-300 people were recruited during his time and all the technical set up was prepared during his time only.

Sources further said that it is wrong to say that it keeps a tab on any media or broadcaster rather keeps a watch on every channel if there is any violation of broadcast rules. There was irresponsible media coverage that got killed several people during 26/11.

So it needed some monitoring and guidelines. It was Pathankot incidence in which irresponsible media coverage jeopardize security and entire airbase was put under threat and for that the particular channel was punished as well.

It is Broadcast Engineering Corporation of India Limited (BECIL) that takes care of Technical aspect of this monitoring team with state-of-the-Art software that enables the monitoring team to watch more than one TV Channels on single screen.

Moreover, the software that enables a team member to watch 12 windows at one go was Israeli software that was acquired by the previous government only.

Sources said working with the media monitoring team that had these people been RSS or BJP workers, they would not have given so detailed report about the working of the media monitoring. Moreover as per work ethics they are not suppose to tell it to anyone.

But since they are political workers appointed by former information and broadcasting minister, so they seem to be serving their real masters.

So the very information that the 200-member team was created by the Modi government is factually incorrect. There are many other lacunas in the information leaked out to the journalists so-called victimized by the government.

Sources added that it is not that only select politicians are motor mouth, some people from the fourth estate too are motor mouth as this habit cost them their job with some other media houses quite often unless one is on the so-called right side of the fence.

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