The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has directed electronic news channels Aaj Tak, Zee News, News 24 and India TV to apologise for insensitive reporting and sensationalising the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
NBSA represents 26 leading private television news and current affairs broadcasters (comprising 76 news and current affairs channels) in the country.
The self-governing authority slammed the channels for violations of privacy and affecting the dignity of the deceased, running insensitive taglines and showing images of Rajput's corpse.
"While it is the duty of the news channel to report news, which may be in public interest and the persons being reported upon may get justice from such media reports, it is equally important to present the news in a manner which does not violate the privacy of the dead nor sensationalise a tragic incident. It is important that the dead must not be subjected to unnecessary media glare," the order read.
The NBSA has asked Aaj Tak to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh along with airing of an apology.
Referring to Aaj Tak's infamous ‘Hit-Wicket’ tagline, the authority said, "By doing so, we have violated Clause 1 of the ‘Specific Guidelines Covering reportage’ relating to ‘accuracy’ which states that information should be gathered first-hand from more than one source, if possible.”
“It appears that the questions are being addressed to Sushant Singh Rajput, who is no more, therefore the taglines are offensive, violate privacy and affect the dignity of the deceased,” they noted.
“The complainants stated that the broadcasters should follow the recommendations put forth by the WHO and the International Association for Suicide Prevention. The recommendations specify that the media should educate people about suicide; media professionals must avoid the language which sensationalises suicides; prominent placement and unnecessary stories about suicide; explicit description of the method and the suicide note used,” the note read.
The NBSA’s order to India Today group, to pay a fine and apologise for spreading fake news, comes at a time when the media network has also been accused of manipulating viewership and accused in the ‘fake TRP’ scam.
News 24 had used taglines like ‘Hey, why didn’t you watch your own film Sushant?’, ‘What you stood up for in your movie, you forgot in your real life,’ referring to the actor’s film Chhichhore, which dealt with mental health.
NBSA noted that this was a strict violation as the reportage intended to ‘sensationalise or create panic, distress or undue fear among viewers.’
The authority also mentioned that Aaj Tak violated its guidelines on privacy as its reporters barged into Rajput's parents' house and questioned his various family members, who were shocked and in grief.
Reporters from ABP News channel also rushed to interview Rajput's cousin sister. However, the authority has let off the channel with a warning as it noted that the cousin had ‘voluntarily’ given an interview.
. Read more on India by The Quint.Sunday View: The Best Weekend Opinion Reads, Curated Just For YouNBSA Orders News Channels to Apologise for ‘Insensitive Reporting’ . Read more on India by The Quint.