Broadcast code violation? AIR uses image with BJP symbol to report on Modi scheme launch

The code states that the state broadcaster is not permitted to ‘directly publicise for or on behalf of an individual or organisation’.

WrittenBy:Sumedha Mittal
Date:
The logo of AIR and a screenshot of an image from their website.
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In a report about the launch of various central government projects, state broadcaster All India Radio used a picture that contained the BJP’s poll symbol – in an ostensible violation of the AIR Broadcast Code.

Notably, the same picture was tweeted by the BJP’s Twitter handle about the launch. It was a social media banner containing details of the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cutout, the BJP’s lotus symbol, and details of the party’s X and Facebook handles where the event will be live-streamed. 

But AIR using this picture to report on the launch could be in ostensible violation of the AIR Broadcast Code, which states that the state broadcaster is not permitted to “directly publicise for or on behalf of an individual or organisation which is likely to benefit only that individual or organisation”.   

The picture was eventually taken down and replaced with a picture of PM Modi, without the BJP symbol.

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The news report which carried the picture states that PM Modi will launch development projects worth over Rs 19,000 crore at Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh. It was published at 8 am on Thursday as part of the national morning bulletin. 

Newslaundry found that the same image was initially published on the BJP’s official website. However, it was eventually taken down and replaced with PM Modi’s picture without the BJP symbol.

The AIR also carried the Congress symbol in another report in December, but an official with the public broadcaster told Newslaundry that it’s a violation only if the poll symbol is carried with news reports concerning the central government.

Notably, this is not the first time that the AIR has published the BJP symbol with a report related to the Modi government. 

On January 23, the AIR website published a news report on PM Modi participating in the Parikaram Diwas celebrations at Red Fort in New Delhi. The article had carried the lotus symbol and details of the party’s official X, Facebook and YouTube handles. 

The same image can also be spotted on the BJP’s X handle.  

Speaking to Newslaundry, on condition of anonymity, an editor at the AIR’s news division said, “This is a complete violation of the state broadcaster’s code of conduct. These are central government’s events, why are they using the BJP’s image? This is highly unethical. But from the last couple of days, it is becoming a regular practice.”

Another editor at the division, who did not want to be named, said, “All these things are recent developments, never used to happen before. It just shows all rules have gone for a toss. No one cares anymore.”

Newslaundry reached out to AIR director-general Vasudha Gupta on the matter. This report will be updated if a response is received. 

By the way, there has been an unprecedented surge in AIR broadcasts featuring PM Modi. Newslaundry found that these rose by 528 percent in 2019 as compared to 2013. Read about it here.

Also see
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