The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) issued an advisory today for journalists and media houses reporting on the Ayodhya hearings. The main purpose of the advisory is to ensure the media covers the dispute in a manner that upholds the secular nature of the country and avoids inciting any communal clashes.
Earlier today, the Supreme Court concluded the hearings on the Ayodhya matter after hearing it for 40 days straight. High drama unfolded in the courtroom as Advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who represents the Sunni Waqf Board, shredded papers handed to him by the All India Hindu Maha Sabha’s counsel. The papers apparently contained a map showing what they said was the birthplace of Lord Ram. The commotion drove an angry Justice Gogoi to threaten to walk out unless decorum was maintained.
Some of the NBSA’s guidelines are as follows:
1) No broadcast should be made in any speculative manner in respect of the present proceedings before the Hon’ble Supreme Court nor of the judgement before it is pronounced; and of its likely consequence thereafter which may be sensational, inflammatory or provocative.
2) No news in relation to the present proceedings pending before the Hon’ble Supreme Court shall be broadcast unless the reporter and/or editor have adequately ascertained the accuracy, authenticity and correctness of what is reported, preferably from court records, or at the very least, by being personally present during such proceedings.
3) No footage of the demolition of the Babri masjid is to be shown in any news item relating to the Ayodhya matter.
4) No visuals need to be shown depicting celebration or protest by persons in respect of the Ayodhya matter
5) Debates which are provocative and inflammatory and likely to create tension in the public should be avoided
6) The telecast of any news/programme must not give any impression of bias or prejudice in favour of or against any community
Here is the complete letter.