New Delhi, Dec. 29: As the news of the bus gang rape victim’s death broke, the frenzied media coverage of the past fortnight largely gave way to a sense of sobriety and sombre reflection.
The Broadcast Editors Association, the apex self-regulatory body for news channels, advised its members not to show the arrival of her body from Singapore, not to chase the hearse or beam any visuals of the funeral, not even to reveal the location of the funeral.
This was “in view of the need to protect the identity, dignity and privacy of the deceased and her family”, association general secretary N.K. Singh said.
The channels were also told to withdraw outside broadcasting (OB) vans from the victim’s hometown of Ballia in Uttar Pradesh, not to broadcast images of her home or family, and not to carry interviews with any of her relatives.
“On crucial issues like this one, we try to evolve a consensus. We were working for this since last night as tragedy seemed impending,” said association president Shazi Zaman, who is also group editor for the MCCS network, which owns ABP News, ABP Ananda and ABP Majha.
Most television channels, therefore, confined themselves to broadcasting condolence messages from political leaders, eminent citizens, celebrities and activists and beaming footage of demonstrations at Jantar Mantar and elsewhere in the country.
Many broadcasters kept appealing for calm and urged people not to take the law into their own hands. Opinions and debates aired by the channels mostly focused on the larger issue of women’s safety and ways to curb crime against the gender.
When some channels showed footage of last week’s violence at India Gate, an alarmed information and broadcasting ministry issued an advisory to broadcasters not to show scenes that could raise passions and provoke violence.
“Early this morning, we sent out advisories to TV channels drawing their attention to Rule 6(1)(e) of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, which says that no programme should be carried by satellite television channels which is likely to encourage or incite violence, or contains anything against maintenance of law and order, or promotes anti-national attitudes,” Neelam Kapoor, principal director-general, Press Information Bureau, told The Telegraph.
The ministry warned the channels that any violation of the code would invite action.