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Why NDTV Was Banned For Its Pathankot Coverage Even Though Other Channels Reported The Same

Was it singled out?

07/11/2016 9:37 AM IST | Updated 07/11/2016 10:20 AM IST
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Was this "strategically sensitive" information?

In the last few days, several journalists and politicians have come out to strongly condemn the government's decision to take the channel NDTV India 'off air' for a day and termed it a "direct violation" of the freedom of the press.

This is the first time ever that a news channel has been barred from broadcasting for breaching national security laws in the country.

While the Editors Guild of India demanded that the order be "immediately rescinded", the government has defended the ban in the interest of national security.

The inter-ministerial panel constituted by the I&B ministry had concluded that the channel had revealed crucial and "strategically sensitive" information when the terror attack on Pathankot IAF base was being carried out in January.

But was the ban justified? Was NDTV the only channel to reveal this information and to report on this? Not really.

According to a blog, that has gone viral now, the government has singled out NDTV India.

The blog notes how different channels reported on the Pathankot attacks.

Largely, and by far, all channels reported the same thing. In almost, the same words.

The Hindu, India Today and Indian Express reported on how terrorists, who were close to the domestic area of the air-base, were prevented from affecting "the MIG-21 BiS fighter jets and the Mi-25 and Mi-35".

Other Hindi news channels including Aaj Tak, ABP News and Zee News showed the exact information that a day before NDTV broadcasted its show.

In fact, hours before NDTV broadcasted their show, three defence spokespersons held a press briefing, which was telecast live by all channels. They gave out details like this:

"The Operation is still on, and as I have told you, this is quite a big airbase and other than strategic assets, there are families here, there's a school here. It is like a mini-city."

Was this not "strategically sensitive" information?

"The question is, was it because it had given out strategically sensitive information or is it because the government wants to use the ban to bring about a 'chilling effect' on the channel's independence?" the blog asks.

You can read the blog here.

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