Several news channels have either blanked out or reduced the use of old visuals of the anti-Agnipath protests after an alleged missive from the news broadcasting and digital association, which counts “25 leading news and current affairs broadcasters” as its members.
A source in NDTV confirmed that the channel received a mail from NBDA on Monday, requesting it not to air archival footage of violent protests. “We have been asked not to use archival footage of protests. This was communicated through an email,” said the source.
In primetime debates on Agnipath, Times Now sparingly used such visuals and replaced them with file footage of army training, drills and parade.
Republic TV, meanwhile, only used visuals of vandalism to train its guns at opposition parties, with tickers such as “political instigation over Agnipath?”. It repeatedly aired footage of protesters with a photograph of Congress MP Rahul Gandhi at a railway station. In its primetime debate hosted by Arnab Goswami, it used file footage of army training.
But a source in the channel denied having any knowledge of the NBDA missive. “Regardless of the message, it is right not to air footage of violence protests. It may further deteriorate the law and order situation.”
An information and broadcasting ministry official told Newslaundry that it had issued an advisory to NBDA. But a few minutes later, he retracted the statement. “Earlier, there was a proposal to issue such an advisory. But it has not been issued so far.”
NBDA general secretary Annie Joseph refused to comment.
On Monday, TMC MP Mahua Moitra had tweeted a screenshot of a purported message by the I&B ministry to the NBDA and news editors. “MoI&B has requested the members of NBDA (to) not carry or broadcast any archival footage of the protests of the Agneepath Scheme. In view of the above, members are requested to kindly adhere to the request made by MoI&B,” it read. She did not respond to calls for comment by Newslaundry.
Earlier, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had condemned “blanket suppression of news of protests”.
Govt now threatening news broadcasters to stop showing the Agnipath protests. Shameful suppression of truth. But why is the National Broadcasters Association giving up its autonomy and acting as messenger boy for the Govt? CPI(M) condemns blanket suppression of news of protests.— CPI (M) (@cpimspeak) June 20, 2022
The party did not respond to requests for comment.
Several parts of the country have been hit by violent protests against Agnipath, with the central government fielding the chiefs of the armed forces and Lt General Arun Puri, additional secretary of the department of military affairs, to brief the media and allay fears of youngsters about the new defence recruitment scheme.
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