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Television news channels back on air in Gujarat after ban over Tehelka expose

Protestors burning an effigy of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in Hyderabad after a TV sting exposed government involvement in the 2002 mass killings of Muslims. Television channels ordered off the air after the airing of footage allegedly exposing government involvement in the 2002 mass killings of Muslims resumed broadcasting late Saturday. Photo: AFP/Noah Seelam

Television channels ordered off the air after the airing of footage exposing The Narendra Modi government's involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots have resumed broadcasting.

The Gujarat Government blacked out several TV channels on Thursday night after they beamed a sting operation done by Tehelka that accused Chief Minister Narendra Modi of fomenting the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Ahmedabad District Magistrate Dhananjay Dwivedi directed all cable networks not to show channels like CNN-IBN, IBN-7 and Aaj Tak which were telecasting the expose.

An order issued by Dwivedi said, "From 19:30 hours (IST), onwards, dated 25.10.07, there are programmes like Tehelka-Aaj Tak Khulasa, Operation Kalank and Gujarat ka Sach being telecast on Aaj Tak and IBN7 depicting visuals and statements of people pertaining to the 2002 communal riots. As per Clause 5 of the Cable TV Network Regulation, 1995, no entity can broadcast or re-broadcast any programme, which is not as per programming code."

All these channels, CNN-IBN reported, went off air in most parts of Gujarat from 1930 hours (IST) on Thursday. The administration claimed it was a violation of Clause 5 of the Cable TV Network Regulation, which deals with broadcasting programmes that "can evoke communal feeling, violence and disturb the law and order situation."

Late Saturday, however, cable distribution resumed of the three major networks targetted, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported. Dwivedi told PTI that his orders to block the controversial programming had been misinterpreted.

"It was clearly stated to the cable operators that only the particular news programme on the sting operation on the riot incidents and other such programmes should not be shown. "There was no ban on the networks showing other programmes ... As long as they are not telecasting the communally sensitive programme, and others of the same category, they are welcome to resume transmission at any given time," he said.

According to Audience Measurement and Analytics (aMap), over 12 lakh people in Gujarat were glued to the news channel airing the expose, a major jump from the average viewership of eight lakh, televisionpoint.com reported.

The average time spent on the channel jumped by 360 per cent increasing from 8 minutes to around 40 minutes. "In towns with population below 10 lakh, the viewership share of the channel went up from 12 per cent to 21 per cent. Share in towns with population of more then 10 lakh went up by from 11 to 14%," aMap Director Ravi Dixit told the website.

The expose has already claimed its first victim. Government pleader Arvind Pandya, who figured in the programme, put in his papers and filed a police complaint against Aak Tak and its correspondent, the Times of India reported.

Pandya, who represented the government in some post-Godhra riot cases and also in the Nanavati Commission, alleged that he was cheated after he was told that his services were required to act in a "serial" on riots. TV Today which owns the Aaj Tak channel denied the charges.

Date posted: October 28, 2007 Date modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 1595