Wednesday, October 22, 2008

PRINCIPLES OF SELF REGULATION FOR INDIAN MEDIA

The News Broadcasters Association(NBA) have established commonly accepted content guidelines as a way of practicing self regulation. The purpose is to define editorial principles which are consistent with the tenets of the freedom of speech articulated in the constitution of India; the regulatory framework; common sensibilities of television viewers.


The purpose of these principles of self regulation is to serve as an affirmative declaration of understanding of, and compliance with, the basic values and objectives that news channels enshrine. It is to ensure that these principles are observed in spirit, and not just in the letter.


The purpose of putting together the principles of self regulation is to avoid compromising the genre of television news by broadcasting content that is malicious, biased, regressive, knowingly inaccurate, hurtful, misleading, or aimed at willfully concealing a conflict of interest. The purpose of these principles of self regulation is to empower the profession of television journalism by an abiding set of values, which will stand the test of time, and ensure that balanced and comprehensive journalism flourishes, to strengthen India’s democracy.


Detailed below are some of the areas where the broadcasters seek to self regulate:


1.Impartiality and objectivity in reporting:

Accuracy is at the heart of the news television business. Viewers of 24 hour news channels expect speed, but it is the responsibility of TV news channels to keep accuracy, and balance, as precedence over speed. If despite this there are errors, channels should be transparent about them. Errors must be corrected promptly and clearly, whether in the use of pictures, a news report, a caption, a graphic or a script. Channels should also strive not to broadcast anything which is obviously defamatory or libelous. 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.


2. Ensuring neutrality:

TV News channels must provide for neutrality by offering equality for all affected parties, players and actors in any dispute or conflict to present their point of view. Though neutrality does not always come down to giving equal space to all sides (news channels shall strive to give main view points of the main parties)news channels must strive to ensure that allegations are not portrayed as fact and charges are not conveyed as an act of guilt.


3. Reporting on crime and safeguards to ensure crime and violence are not glorified:

Television news has greater reach, and more immediate impact than other forms of media, and this makes it all the more necessary that channels exercise restraint to ensure that any report or visuals broadcast do not induce, glorify, incite, or positively depict violence and its perpetrators, regardless of ideology or context. Specific care must be taken not to broadcast visuals that can be prejudicial or inflammatory. Equally, in the reporting of violence (whether collective or individual) the act of violence must not be glamorized, because it may have a misleading or desensitizing impact on viewers. News channels will ensure that such reconstructions will not cross boundaries of good taste and sensibility. This includes taking adequate precaution while showing any visual instance of pain, fear or suffering, and visuals or details of methods of suicide and self harm of any kind and will not cross boundaries of good taste and decency.


4. Depiction of violence or intimidation against women and children:

As an elaboration of Point 3, news channels will ensure that no woman or juvenile, who is a victim of sexual violence, aggression, trauma, or has been a witness to the same is shown on television without due effort taken to conceal the identity. In reporting all cases of sexual assault, or instances where the personal character or privacy of women are concerned, their names, pictures and other details will not be broadcast/divulged. Similarly, the identity of victims of child abuse and juvenile delinquents will not be revealed, and their pictures will be morphed to conceal their identity.


5. Sex and nudity:

News channels will ensure that they do not show, without morphing, nudity of the male or female form. Channels will also not show explicit images of sexual activity or sexual perversions or acts of sexual violence like rape or molestation, or show pornography, or the use of sexually suggestive language. (As a qualifier however, channels are not expected to be moralistic or prudish, and this self regulation is aimed not at moral policing, but rather at ensuring that overtly regressive and explicit acts and visuals do not slip into broadcasts).


6. Privacy:

As a rule channels must not intrude on private lives, or personal affairs of individuals, unless there is a clearly established larger and identifiable public interest for such a broadcast. The underlying principle that news channels abide by is that the intrusion of the private spaces, records, transcripts, telephone conversations and any other material will not be for salacious interest, but only when warranted in the public interest. However, it is also understood that the pursuit of the truth and the news is not possible through the predetermined principle of prior permission; hence door stepping individuals or authorities for the purpose of newsgathering may be used only in the larger purpose of public interest.. Further, in the case of minors, in any broadcast that intrudes on their privacy, the channel should attempt, where possible, to seek the consent of the parent or legal guardian. However, the defense of the premise of privacy cannot be misconstrued as the denial of access, and this applies to all individuals, including those in the public eye and public personalities. It does however apply in its entirety, as per the provisions mentioned above, to their children and kin who are minors.


7. Endangering national security:

In the use of any terminology or maps, that represent India and Indian strategic interests, all news channels will use specific terminology and maps mandated by law and Indian government rules. (The depiction of the map of the territory of India will reflect official guidelines, as detailed in official literature). News channels will also refrain from allowing broadcasts that encourage secessionist groups and interests, or reveal information that endangers lives and national security. However, it is in the public interest to broadcast instances of breach of national security and loopholes in national security and reporting these cannot be confused with endangering national security.


8. Refraining from advocating or encouraging superstition and occultism :

News channels will not broadcast any material that glorifies superstition and occultism in any manner. In broadcasting any news about such genre, news channels will also issue public disclaimers to ensure that viewers are not misled into believing or emulating such beliefs and activity. Therefore news channels will not broadcast “as fact” myths about “supernatural” acts, apparitions and ghosts, personal or social deviations or deviant behavior, and recreations of the same. Wherever references are made to such cases, news channels will issue on air riders/disclaimers/warnings to ensure that such beliefs or events are not passed off “as fact” since they can hurt rational sensibilities.


9.Sting operations:

As a guiding principle, sting and under cover operations should be a last resort of news channels in an attempt to give the viewer comprehensive coverage of any news story. News channels will not allow sex and sleaze as a means to carry out sting operations, the use of narcotics and psychotropic substances or any act of violence, intimidation, or discrimination as a justifiable means in the recording of any sting operation. Sting operations, will also abide by the principles of self regulation mentioned above, and news channels will ensure that they will be guided, as mentioned above, by an identifiable larger public interest. News channels will as a ground rule, ensure that sting operations are carried out only as a tool for getting conclusive evidence of wrong doing or criminality, and that there is no deliberate alteration of visuals, or editing, or interposing done with the raw footage in a way that it also alters or misrepresents the truth or presents only a portion of the truth.


10. Corrigendum:

All news channels will keeping with the principle of due accuracy and impartiality, ensure that significant mistakes made in the course of any broadcast is acknowledged and corrected on air immediately. Corrections should also be scheduled in such a way that they attract enough viewer attention and are not concealed. This, like the other principles, must be observed in spirit, and not just in letter, to avoid any compromise to the reputation of the news broadcasting industry in India.


Viewer feedback:

All News Channels will on their website, create provision to receive consumer feedback. Further any specific viewer complaints will be responded to. In the event any news channel gets a specific complaint if found to be true it will admit to the same on air and will respond in fullness and fairness to the viewer. In the event, a viewer/body perceives prejudice by any specific report carried by the News channel, it will respond in fullness and without impartiality to the viewer.


Source: http://www.thehoot.org/web/home/story.php?storyid=3296&pg=1&mod=1&sectionId=7&valid=true



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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