Amid a major outcry, the government on Tuesday put on hold its directive to NDTV India to go off air for a day over Pathankot terror attack after the broadcaster sought a review of the decision.
The November 2 directive of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry was put on hold till the appeal is disposed of, officials said.
The decision to put the directive on hold came after NDTV’s co-chairman Prannoy Roy met Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu today and discussed the issue related to the order.
The order was put on hold after an appeal from the channel and “in sync with the government’s liberal democratic ethos and principles”, Naidu said.
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The minister said the NDTV leadership presented an appeal to him, to which he said he will have a look and then decided that the government directive will be on hold till the process is completed.
The government directive had triggered a major uproar, with Congress and several other political parties, as also media bodies, attacking the NDA dispensation and accusing it of attempting to muzzle the freedom of press.
An official said Roy, while referring to the decision of the Inter-Ministerial Committee imposing the penalty, contended that the perspective of NDTV in this regard “was perhaps not fully and adequately appreciated”.
“Roy sought a review of the decision and said that till such time the order should be put on hold,” a senior official said.
Officials said that Naidu agreed to the request and the ministry will review the decision and till that time the order has been put on hold.
It is learnt that Naidu said that rule 6(1)(p) related to media coverage of anti-terror operations was incorporated last year after a series of advisories were issued to media organisations by the previous UPA government.
He said that violations of norms related to coverage of anti-terror operations had been noticed.
The I&B ministry had on November 2 ordered that hindi channel NDTV India be taken off air for a day concluding that it had violated the guidelines in its coverage of the Pathankot terror attack.
Later tonight, Naidu, in a series of tweets, said the NDA government has “no ill-will against anyone” and “believes in freedom of expression” unlike the “Congress which muzzled free speech in 1975 & between 2004-2014.”
He said, “The top leadership of NDTV had sought a meeting with me. Today we met & during our meeting they requested revocation of ban on NDTV India.”
Maintaining that “The Inter Ministerial Committee is clear that NDTV has violated due process & procedure & compromised nat’l (national) security in their coverage of Pathankot attack,” Naidu said, “But, in sync with the government’s liberal democratic ethos & principles, this decision was taken with regard to NDTV.”
The minister further said that “unlike the Congress which muzzled free speech in 1975 & between 2004-2014, the NDA government believes in freedom of expression.”
He said, “GoI has no ill-will against anyone. We are here to fulfil aspirations of 125 crore people & fulfil the unprecedented mandate people gave us.”
In yet another tweet, Naidu said, “All of us in GOI fought the emergency tooth & nail and will resist any attack on freedom of expression & defeat those forces.”