No, I am not talking about some Basketball league or the Narmada Bachao Andolan. This NBA is different.
There was this mosque at Jangpura in Delhi. A relatively posh locality in Delhi. This mosque, Noor Masjid, was demolished by the DDA under orders from the High Court. The mosque was built on encroached DDA land and therefore the court order for demolition. This followed with rioting by muslims in protest. Some newspapers and websites reported the incidents but TV news channels apparently blacked out the whole incident.
Zoomindianmedia, another site that regularly tracks Indian media has a full post on the TV blackout of the incident. Barkha Dutt, after persistent queries by tweeters, seems to have responded by tweeting: “All channels decided against (telecast?)...NBA decision. Just like on Telengana.” Well, that NBA is the National Broadcasters Association.
And they even have an Ethics Code for TV channels and the first of this reads as under (excerpt) :
Impartiality and objectivity in reporting:
Accuracy is at the heart of the news television business.....it is the responsibility of TV news channels to keep accuracy, and balance..... If despite this there are errors, channels should be transparent about them......Truth will be a defense in all cases where a larger public interest is involved, and in even these cases, equal opportunities will be provided for individuals involved to present their point of view. This also applies in cases where television channels report on those holding public office, though by virtue of doing so, no person can claim immunity from scrutiny from or criticism by news channels.
You can read the full guidelines on ethics at their website.
So according to Barkha Dutt the blackout decision was taken by NBA. The riots were followed by Sheila Dikshit meeting the Imam Bukhari (of Delhi’s Jama masjid) who was to lead Friday prayers last week. So in this case there was neither truth nor public interest involved and therefore a good case to blackout the news on TV channels. The media which cannot stop shouting itself hoarse over censorship will now do the censorship for you.
The mosque case is one of illegal occupation of public land, illegal construction, the Delhi government not protecting public property till the HC gets involved. Following the demolition, people riot, even hold prayers at the same spot with the support of the CM. All that is not truth or public interest. The fences erected by the DDA were also brought down by the mob. Some residents in the locality have objected to the nuisance being created for them because of the rioting, blockades by policemen and the prayers still being held there. The mockery of a High Court order is not news-worthy. You don’t need to know.
The NBA ethics code also states on its page: “It is a fundamental paradigm of freedom of speech that media must be free from governmental control in the matter of “content” – censorship and free speech are sworn enemies.” The NBA itself might be doing the job that it doesn’t want the government to do.