On January 9, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) issued an advisory to all television channels against reporting incidents of accidents, deaths, and violence including violence against women, children and elderly in manners which grossly compromises on “good taste and decency”. The advisory has been issued after several instances of lack of discretion by television channels were noticed by the Ministry.
The Ministry has said that television channels have shown dead bodies of individuals and images and videos of injured persons with blood splattered around, people, including women, children and elderly being beaten mercilessly in close shots, continuous cries and shrieks of a child being beaten by a teacher, shown repeatedly over several minutes including circling the actions thereby making it even more ghastly, without taking the precaution of blurring the images or showing them from long shots. It has further highlighted that the manner of reporting such incidents is distasteful and distressing for the audience.
The advisory has highlighted the impact such reporting has on various audience. It has stated that such reports can also have an adverse psychological impact on the children. There is also a crucial issue of invasion of privacy which could be potentially maligning and defamatory, the advisory has underlined. Television, being a platform usually watched by families in households with people from all cohorts – old aged, middle aged, small children, etc., and with various socio-economic backgrounds, place certain sense of responsibility and discipline among the broadcasters, which have been enshrined in the Programme Code and the Advertising Code.
The Ministry has observed that in most cases the videos are being taken from social media and broadcast without editorial discretion and modifications to ensure compliance and consistency with the Programme Code.
The advisory highlighted 12 instances when distressing images or video were aired by broadcasters without blurring recognisable features of the victims in violation of the existing broadcast norms. The examples cited by the ministry include images of a badly injured cricketer, Rishab Pant, after his high-speed accident near Roorkee in Uttarakhand in December 2022 that were widely circulated by television channels.
Raising concern over such broadcast and in view of larger public interest involved and having regard to the nature of audience of television channels including elderly, women and children, the Ministry has strongly advised all private television channels to attune their systems and practices of reporting incidents of crime, accidents and violence, including death in conformity with the Programme Code.
The detailed advisory for broadcasters can be accessed here.