TV channels showing riot sting banned in Gujarat
Cable Blackout in Gujarat
Oct 26, 2007 at 10:33pm IST
Ahmedabad: For the Patel family based in Ahmedabad, it turned out to be a futile attempt on Thursday evening. They couldn’t see their favourite news channels while the rest of the country sat glued to their TV sets, watching the Tehelka expose on the horrors of 2002 riots. For many Gujaratis, the anxiety actually turned out to be killing.
“We wanted to watch the programme, but TV is off since Thursday,” said an Ahmedabad resident.
The Gujarat Government blacked out several TV channels on Thursday night after the channels started beaming a sting operation done by Tehelka that accused Chief Minister Narendra Modi of inciting the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Moments after the channels started beaming the expose, the state government got into action mode. The District Magistrate of Ahmedabad, Dhananjay Dwivedi — who is also the district election officer — directed all cable networks not to show channels like CNN-IBN, IBN-7 and Aaj Tak — the channels that were showing the expose.
An order issued by the Ahmedabad District Magistrate and District Election Officer Dhananjay Dwivedi said: “From 19:30 hours (IST), onwards, dated 25.10.07, there are programmes like Tehelka-Aaj Tak Khulasa, Operation Kalank and Gujarat ka Sach being telecast on Aaj Tak and IBN7 depicting visuals and statements of people pertaining to the 2002 communal riots. As per Clause 5 of the Cable TV Network Regulation, 1995, no entity can broadcast or re-broadcast any programme, which is not as per programming code.”
Subsequently, all these channels went off air in most parts of Gujarat from 1930 hours (IST) on Thursday. The administration claimed it’s a violation of Clause 5 of Cable TV Network Regulation, which deals with broadcasting programmes which could create communal tension.
The state authorities accused the TV channels of spreading ‘more communal discord’ in the state than the people who actually featured on the Tehelka tapes.
For instance, the language used by leaders like Babu Bajrangi, Haresh Bhatt, Dhabal Patel and Madan Dhanraj in the tapes could easily turn the situation far more dangerous than what was being shown, they say.
The Central Election Commission, however, washed its hands off the controversy. It said it didn’t issue any such orders. The clarification came in the wake of large-scale complaints from viewers all over Gujarat that they were not able to watch the programme.
The three channels have remained off-air when reports last came in as the ban order has no time-frame as to when the ban will be lifted.
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