Security operations in India
Yes, the Home Ministry intends to ban live telecasts of security operations. It has written to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry asking for amendments in the Cable Television Network rules so that ban can be enforced. During the UPA government’s time, Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister had drafted a law for a ban, but it had been scrapped by the then PM Manmohan Singh.
The Home Ministry is now making specific rules on what footage should not be shown live on TV channels while reporting from the spot during anti-terrorist operations. Although the live telecast of the commando operation at Nariman House during the 2008 Mumbai attacks had caused apprehension, it is said that the immediate trigger for the move was the live coverage of cross-border firing in Jammu and Kashmir which had happened last year in 2014.
The Home Ministry believes that such coverage “not only affects the secrecy and effectiveness of the operation but also puts the safety of journalists in jeopardy”. After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the National Broadcaster Association put out a set of rules, which also restricted live reporting of terror situations, as part of a self-regulation exercise of private broadcasters. However, so far there is no official ban on live coverage of anti-terror operations.
With regard to your query on other countries having imposed this ban, the Afghanistan government had a few years back, announced broad restrictions on live coverage of militant attacks, stating that it would also prohibit foreign and national news media from getting close to the scene of attacks while they are in progress. The stated reason for the ban was that live coverage presents a security risk because it lets the attackers see how the security forces are responding and allows them to send guidance to militant operatives. Another reason by the government for imposing the ban was that they were trying to protect journalists from gunfire and bombs. The Egyptian government had also recently, a day after many journalists covering the protests in Egypt had been detained and attacked had banned the live broadcast from the country.
Therefore, I feel that this law can be, to a certain extent, said to have been borrowed from Afghanistan government, as the Home Ministry’s actual intent is to prevent reckless media coverage and to ensure that the national security is not jeopardized.
Union home ministry seeks ban of live TV coverage of anti-terror operations, The Times of India, available at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Union-home-ministry-seeks-ban-of-live-TV-coverage-of-anti-terror-operations/articleshow/45712496.cms, last accessed on 7th February, 2015.
Plan to stop live terror telecast, The Telegraph, available at: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150106/jsp/nation/story_6976.jsp#.VNXJiFOUf2c, last accessed on 7th February, 2015.
Live TV coverage of anti-terror operations may be banned, The Economic Times, available at: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-12-31/news/57558197_1_home-ministry-security-forces-coverage, last accessed on 7th February, 2015.
Afghanistan Aims to Ban Live Coverage of Attacks, The New York Times, available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/03/world/asia/03afghan.html?_r=0, last accessed on 7th February, 2015.
Egypt unrest: Now, govt bans live broadcast from country, NDTV, available at: http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/egypt-unrest-now-govt-bans-live-broadcast-from-country-446902, last accessed on 7th February, 2015.