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Government Defends NDTV India Ban, Says Criticism ‘Politically Inspired’

NEW DELHI: Amid wide condemnation of a one-day ban on NDTV India, union minister Venkaiah Naidu today justified the move saying it was in the interest of the nation.

“This action of asking a TV (channel) to go off one day is in the interest of the country’s safety and security,” Mr Naidu, who is the Information and Broadcasting minister, said this morning.

NDTV India has been told it must go off air on Wednesday as penalty for its coverage of the terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in January.

NDTV has refuted the claims that its Hindi channel provided sensitive information during the terror attack and has said its broadcast offered no details that were not reported by other channels and newspapers. “After the dark days of the emergency when the press was fettered, it is extraordinary that NDTV is being proceeded against in this manner,” NDTV said, adding that it is considering all its options.

An array of the country’s top editors and press groups ranging from the Editors Guild of India to the Broadcast Editors Association have said the government must withdraw the ban which amounts to “harsh censorship” and a blatant violation of the freedom guaranteed to the press by the constitution.

The Mumbai Press Club said that a ban against “a specific TV channel that has been critical of the government, and has done serious ground reporting on the views of the common man, does not augur well for freedom of expression of the country.”

But Mr Naidu said that the “belated criticism of the action proposed to be taken against NDTV India for violating the norms of live coverage of anti-terrorist operations by security personnel in Pathankot in January this year is clearly ill informed and politically inspired.”

This is the first time that a channel has been banned in the interest of national security for violating the cable TV act.

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