Rajat Sharma said advertisers should make a distinction between channels that are unnecessarily aggressive, allow abuses and fights as part of their content Credit: Twitter

News Broadcasters’ Association (NBA) president Rajat Sharma slammed at the drama and fiction being shown in the name of news by certain channels. This is against the interest of not only the genre but also the society, in general, the president told BestMediaInfo.com.

In the interview, he said that they have seen videos of reporters who go overboard and even harass witnesses. Some even chase those who were being called in for questioning by agencies while others even use “four-letter” words on-air, he added.

The interview talked about the NBA’s recent affidavit to the Supreme Court (SC) asking for more powers so that its Programme Code becomes binding to all news channels including non-members. Sharma rectified the interviewer by saying that they are not asking for more powers. All NBA is asking is for is the news channels to follow the guidelines issued by News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), which is a different body.

Sharma added that NBSA has a strict and clear code of ethics for news broadcasters and over the years, has helped news channels to improve their content. Hence, it can now play a crucial role in controlling toxic content. Although a problem does arise which is that the news channels under the scanner are not members of the NBA and don’t come under the purview of NBSA. “We are not even asking them to become members of NBA. We are asking the Ministry of I and B to make it mandatory for all news channels to follow the code of ethics and guidelines issued by NBSA,” said the President.

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The issue of trivialization to compete with channels for better views is also an ever-looming threat to which Sharma said that there is a visible and clear cut distinction between NBA and non-NBA channels and it is obvious that NBA channels have to be competitive. However, they can’t afford to violate the NBSA guidelines. And for those who refuse to follow orders and walks out of the NBA to form their own “associations, gangs or groups” must mandatorily follow all of the NBSA code of ethics and guidelines.

He also added that advertisers should make a distinction between channels that are unnecessarily aggressive, allow abuses and fights as part of their content. According to Sharma, they should differentiate between the news channels that are invading privacy and creating high-voltage drama to draw attention.

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“We have seen videos of reporters going overboard, harassing witnesses, chasing those who have been called for questioning by agencies, even using four-letter words on air. It is not a secret who is doing it. The world over, we have seen advertisers and reputed brands withdrawing support from such hate-mongers. There should be a premium for news channels that follow ethics and codes. Self-regulation and strict guidelines are key to a safe environment for brands and advertisers,” he said.

Lastly, the issue of no holds barred while reporting religious conflicts, was also brought upon to which the President said that NBA will not allow their members to disturb communal harmony or create a wedge between two communities. “Journalists can investigate within the limits of code of ethics. NBSA guidelines don’t allow news channels to run a media trial or term a death as a murder,” he said.

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