I&B Ministry | Ukraine crisis: I&B ministry flags TV coverage of Ukraine crisis and violence in Delhi

The government has ordered TV news channels to curb “sensationalism” and content “despising religious groups” in their coverage of recent violence in northwest Delhi and the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war.

Flagging some of the coverage as “inauthentic and misleading”, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a notice on Saturday asking news channels to strictly adhere to the program code.

According to the TV channel’s program code, no program should contain visuals or words that insult religious groups. They should also not promote anti-national attitudes or show anything that undermines the integrity of the nation.

Existing rules state that when a channel is found to be in violation of some aspect of the program code, the Department of I&B can suspend it for a few days, impose a sanction or even revoke its license.

The ministry, without naming the channels, said it aired “provocative headlines and videos of violence likely to incite communal hatred” while covering communal violence in Jahangirpuri, in which at least nine people, including eight police officers , were injured when clashes broke out during a Hanuman Jayanti Procession.

According to the notice, some TV stations had even broadcast unverified closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage that “disrupted the investigative process”.

I&B Minister Anurag Thakur said the advisory was sent because some of the coverage was based on “inadequate information and half-baked knowledge”.

The ministry also said the channels used “fabricated titles” such as “Delhi mein Aman ke dushman kaun?” (Who are the enemies of peace in Delhi?) and “Vote Bank Vs Majoritarian Politics”, and images of a man “belonging to a specific community” carrying a sword, putting a “community twist” on the violence.

The government has also flagged specific shows such as one titled “Ali, Bajrang Bali by khalbali” for incitement to hatred.

Regarding coverage of the Ukrainian conflict, the ministry said some channels were broadcasting “scandalous headlines” unrelated to the conflict, while one also claimed that the US Central Intelligence Agency believed that Russia would use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

Christi C. Elwood