IMPACT | 7 November 2016
The Indian government has suspended a one-day ban on NDTV’s Hindi channel due on Wednesday, which had been widely condemned by other news outlets.
Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu took the decision, the channel said.
The 24-hour suspension was imposed as a penalty for NDTV’s coverage of an attack on the Pathankot air force base.
The broadcasting ministry said the channel had divulged “strategically-sensitive details” while covering the attack which took place in January.
It said that among the information revealed were details on ammunition and the locations of military planes.
Monday’s decision – reported on the channel’s website – to suspend the ban was announced after the Supreme Court agreed to hear NDTV’s appeal on Tuesday against it.
Mr Naidu earlier argued that the suspension was necessary for security reasons and that it was responsible for generating a storm of criticism against the government which appeared to be “politically inspired”.
NDTV rejected the criticism, saying its coverage of the attack – in which seven Indian soldiers and six militants were killed – was “particularly balanced”.
It argued that other channels and newspapers reported the same details.
India has accused Pakistan-based group Jaish-e-Mohammad of carrying out the assault.
The ban was believed to have been the first order against an Indian broadcaster over its coverage of militant attacks.
The Press Club of India described the government’s action as “uncalled-for censorship” at a time when “press freedom is already under increasing threat in the country”.
NDTV said after the announcement of the ban that it was looking at “all possible options” in response to the “extraordinary order”.
The channel also received support from the Editors Guild of India, an organisation of the country’s top editors which condemned the “unprecedented decision”.
News of the ban and its suspension has also trended on Twitter under the #NDTVBanned hashtag.