Flagging some of the coverage as “inauthentic and misleading”, the information and broadcasting ministry issued an advisory on Saturday asking news channels to strictly comply with the programme code.
According to the programme code for TV channels, no programme should contain visuals or words that insult religious groups. They should also not promote anti-national attitudes or show anything that affects the integrity of the nation.
The existing rules state that when a channel is found violating any aspect of the programme code, the I&B ministry can suspend it for a few days, impose a penalty or even revoke its licence.
The ministry, without naming the channels, said they ran “provocative headlines and videos of violence that may incite communal hatred” while covering the Jahangirpuri communal violence, in which at least nine people, including eight policemen, were injured when clashes broke out during a Hanuman Jayanti procession.
According to the advisory, some TV channels had even aired unverified close circuit television (CCTV) footage that “disrupted the investigation process.”
I&B minister Anurag Thakur said the advisory was sent as some of the coverage was based on “inadequate information and half-baked knowledge.”
The ministry also said that channels used “fabricating headlines” such as “Delhi mein Aman ke dushman kaun?” (Who are the enemies of peace in Delhi?) and “Vote Bank Vs Majoritarian Politics”, and the footage of a man “belonging to a specific community” carrying a sword, giving a “communal spin” to the violence.
The government also flagged specific shows such as the one titled “Ali, Bajrang Bali par khalbali” for instigating hatred.
On the coverage of the Ukraine conflict, the ministry said some channels ran “scandalous headlines” that were completely unrelated to the conflict, while one also made a claim that the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency believed that Russia would use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.