The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued a new advisory dated January 9, 2023, warning satellite news channels to avoid airing uncensored disturbing footage and distressing images.
The ministry directed all television channels to strictly refrain from reporting incidents of accidents, deaths, and violence including violence against women, children, and the elderly which ‘grossly’ compromise ‘good taste and decency’.
“TV channels have shown dead bodies of individuals and images/videos of injured persons with blood splattered around, people, including women, children and elderly being beaten mercilessly in close shots, continuous cries and shrieks of a child being beaten by a teacher shown repeatedly over several minutes including circling the actions thereby making it even more ghastly, without taking the precaution of blurring the images or showing them from long shots,” read the advisory.
Seeing visuals of extreme violence, helpless individuals, minors, and other heart-wrenching incidents can have an adverse psychological impact on children. Apart from that, the news channels are also invading the privacy of victims by reporting in an irresponsible manner which could be potentially maligning and defamatory.
Broadcasts of such graphic visuals are already prohibited under the Programme Code and the Advertising Code but news channels regularly ignore the guidelines of the code for creating sensational stories and boosting their TRP.
In its advisory, the ministry has highlighted 12 instances in the past few months where very disturbing images were shown by television channels. They also observed that in most cases the videos are simply taken from social media and put on air without editorial discretion or modifications to ensure compliance with the Programme Code.
Television is a platform that is watched by the whole family including small impressionable children and old aged people hence our country has strict satellite broadcast regulations. Media is referred to as the fourth pillar of democracy and they have significant importance in today’s society so the channels should think above and beyond their viewership or TRP and air reports after conscious editing.