Shailaja Bajpai in the Indian Express: The Chosen One
If the election results were to be decided solely by TV coverage, Modi would have won a landslide already.
Countries such as the US try to follow the idea of equal coverage especially in the run-up to an election — and especially after a politician is declared as the official candidate, as Modi has been. Recently, the Republicans threatened that TV channels, NBC and CNN, would not be allowed to telecast the party's next presidential debates because NBC had planned a TV series and CNN a documentary about Democrat Hillary Clinton. Indian news channels don't let minor matters like equality trouble them. They're obsessed with the man, to the point that Modi-fixation has become a clinical condition which may soon require treatment.
Read the full piece at the Indian Express: The Chosen One
While a debate on the idea of equal coverage is thus afoot, the Information and Broadcasting ministry on its own part is not-so-subtly using crude arm-twisting tactics, as this report in Niti Central, which put up the following ridiculous "advisory" issued by the I&B ministry, reveals, as an example of the ruling dispensation's desperate attempts to intimidate private TV channels:
No. 804/1 56/201 3-BC-lll
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
MINISTRY OF INFORMATION & BROADCASTING
‘A’ WING, SHASTRI BHAWAN
NEW DELHI- 11OOO1
Dated 21st October, 2013
Whereas it had come to the notice of Ministry of Information & Broadcasting that certain TV channels attempted to denigrate the Office of the Prime Minister of India by constantly trying to compare the speech of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India with the speech of other political leaders on 15th August, 2013.
Whereas the telecast of this kind of programme on a day when entire nation was celebrating its 67th Independence Day is highly objectionable. The Prime Minister spoke from the Ramparts of the Red Fort, as the Prime Minister of the country and not as a leader of a political party. Therefore, on such a solemn day to put him in an artificial competition with anyone is not appropriate. On Independence Day when the Prime Minister addresses the nation and the country is united in the emotions of national integrity, patriotism and national fervor, the attempt by certain TV channels to denigrate the status of the Prime Minister can best be described as sensational and against all norms of ethical journalism.
Whereas, as per Section 5 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 read with Rule 6 (1 X) & (i) of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, as amended from time to time, no programme can be transmitted/retransmitted on any Cable Service which contains anything offensive against good taste or decency; and criticises, maligns or slanders any individual in person or certain groups, segments of social, public and moral life of the country.
Whereas, according to the basic conditions/obligations of permission/approval for Uplinking/Downlinking of TV Channels in India, the channels are bound to follow the Programme Code and Advertising Code as prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and rules framed thereunder.
Therefore, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, in exercise of powers under Uplinking/Downlinking Guidelines issued by it, the terms of permission granted to the Channel to uplink/downlink TV Channels and under Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, hereby advises all News & Current Affairs TV Channels to follow the provisions of the Programme and Advertising Codes scrupulously and keep the significance of the solemn days like Independence Day, etc. in view while carrying the speech of the Prime Minister and the President of India.
It is also brought to the notice of all TV channels that any further violation of the provisions of the Programme/Advertising Code would attract penal provisions stipulated in Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995and the terms and conditions of uplinking and downlinking guidelines.
(K.S. REJTMON )