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Emergency-like Gag on NDTV India: Who in the Media Cares?

Sabrangindia Staff 05 Nov 2016
The media should be an effective tool in the “sharpening of democracy,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi after giving away awards for excellence in journalism in Delhi on Wednesday. He also said there was a need to reflect on Emergency so that no leader dares to repeat it. Only a day later, came his government’s order directing a 24-hour shutdown of NDTV India on November 9.

Telegraph

The Editor’s Guild of India reacted promptly and sharply to the Modi government’s gag order, calling it "a direct violation of the freedom of the media and, therefore, the citizens of India, and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency".  

But if the print editions of prominent national dailies dated November 4 and November 5 published from Mumbai are anything to go by, none except The Indian Express seems to think this unprecedented attack on press freedom is of much significance. As the news broke late on the evening of Thursday, November 3, news and views published on November 5 deserve a closer look. Take a look at the reportage and edits/comment pieces, in the various dailies on both dates. The front page of The Telegraph, Kolkata dated November 5 stands out in sharp contrast.

The Indian Express:
November 4:
Page 1: Single column on page 1, headline, "I&B panel: Take NDTV India off air on Nov 9 for Pathankkot", continued in 3 columns on page 2.

November 5:
Page 1: Lead story headline, “Ban recalls Emergency, withdraw it: Editors Guild on NDTV India".
Edit page: Lead editorial. Headline, “November 9 must not be blackout day. Government must take back NDTV ban order or court should step in, read it the Constitution".
Also, lead comment piece on edit page by Pratap Bhanu Mehta: “There is no Emergency: Let’s find another name for cult of the leader, tyranny of nationalism, use of state power to suffocate opposition”.

The Times of India:
November 4:
Page 1: Single column on page 1, headline, “1-day blackout penalty for TV channel over terror coverage”; continued in 3 columns on page 3.

November 5:
Page1: No news of the gag on NDTV India.
Page 14: Two columns under headline, “Ban on NDTV: Govt draws flak from Opposition”.
 Edit page: No edit/comment piece on the ban.

The Economic Times:
November 4: Page 2, single column, “Pathankot attack: Hindi News Channel to be off air for a day.”

November 5:
News: No reportage
Edit: Second editorial, “Don’t mock PM, Don’t Black Out channel.”

The Hindu:
November 4:
Page 13: A two-column report, “NDTV India ordered to go off air for a day”.

November 5:
Page12: Two-column news, bottom of page 12; headline, “NDTV ban sparks outrage”.
Edit page: Second editorial under headline, “Ominous curb on media freedom”.

The Hindustan Times: 
November 4:
Page 11: Two column story, “NDTV India off air for a day for flouting norms”.

November 5:
Page 8:  Four columns, “Media bodies, Opposition slam Centre over channel ban".
Edit page: Nothing on the ban.

The Asian Age:

November 4:
Page 1: Small box item: “TV channel taken off for 1 day”; continued in 4 columns of page 7.

November 5:
Page 7: News channel ban sparks furore; Opp. refers to Emergency days; BJP hits back, says nation comes first”.
Edit/Op-ed pages: Nothing on the ban.

DNA:
November 4: No report on ban.

November 5:
Page 5: “Govt on NDTV one-day ban: Nation comes first.” As the headline itself suggests the report is clearly slanted towards the government’s justification of the gag.
Opinion Page: No edit/comment.
 

Emergency-like Gag on NDTV India: Who in the Media Cares?

The media should be an effective tool in the “sharpening of democracy,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi after giving away awards for excellence in journalism in Delhi on Wednesday. He also said there was a need to reflect on Emergency so that no leader dares to repeat it. Only a day later, came his government’s order directing a 24-hour shutdown of NDTV India on November 9.

Telegraph

The Editor’s Guild of India reacted promptly and sharply to the Modi government’s gag order, calling it "a direct violation of the freedom of the media and, therefore, the citizens of India, and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency".  

But if the print editions of prominent national dailies dated November 4 and November 5 published from Mumbai are anything to go by, none except The Indian Express seems to think this unprecedented attack on press freedom is of much significance. As the news broke late on the evening of Thursday, November 3, news and views published on November 5 deserve a closer look. Take a look at the reportage and edits/comment pieces, in the various dailies on both dates. The front page of The Telegraph, Kolkata dated November 5 stands out in sharp contrast.

The Indian Express:
November 4:
Page 1: Single column on page 1, headline, "I&B panel: Take NDTV India off air on Nov 9 for Pathankkot", continued in 3 columns on page 2.

November 5:
Page 1: Lead story headline, “Ban recalls Emergency, withdraw it: Editors Guild on NDTV India".
Edit page: Lead editorial. Headline, “November 9 must not be blackout day. Government must take back NDTV ban order or court should step in, read it the Constitution".
Also, lead comment piece on edit page by Pratap Bhanu Mehta: “There is no Emergency: Let’s find another name for cult of the leader, tyranny of nationalism, use of state power to suffocate opposition”.

The Times of India:
November 4:
Page 1: Single column on page 1, headline, “1-day blackout penalty for TV channel over terror coverage”; continued in 3 columns on page 3.

November 5:
Page1: No news of the gag on NDTV India.
Page 14: Two columns under headline, “Ban on NDTV: Govt draws flak from Opposition”.
 Edit page: No edit/comment piece on the ban.

The Economic Times:
November 4: Page 2, single column, “Pathankot attack: Hindi News Channel to be off air for a day.”

November 5:
News: No reportage
Edit: Second editorial, “Don’t mock PM, Don’t Black Out channel.”

The Hindu:
November 4:
Page 13: A two-column report, “NDTV India ordered to go off air for a day”.

November 5:
Page12: Two-column news, bottom of page 12; headline, “NDTV ban sparks outrage”.
Edit page: Second editorial under headline, “Ominous curb on media freedom”.

The Hindustan Times: 
November 4:
Page 11: Two column story, “NDTV India off air for a day for flouting norms”.

November 5:
Page 8:  Four columns, “Media bodies, Opposition slam Centre over channel ban".
Edit page: Nothing on the ban.

The Asian Age:

November 4:
Page 1: Small box item: “TV channel taken off for 1 day”; continued in 4 columns of page 7.

November 5:
Page 7: News channel ban sparks furore; Opp. refers to Emergency days; BJP hits back, says nation comes first”.
Edit/Op-ed pages: Nothing on the ban.

DNA:
November 4: No report on ban.

November 5:
Page 5: “Govt on NDTV one-day ban: Nation comes first.” As the headline itself suggests the report is clearly slanted towards the government’s justification of the gag.
Opinion Page: No edit/comment.
 

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