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How AIR & Doordarshan beat EC’s model code to air PM Modi’s A-SAT speech

Modi govt went to YouTube with the A-SAT speech and AIR & Doordarshan only borrowed the feed, apparently circumventing the model code.

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New Delhi: Public broadcasters All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan may have escaped violating the Election Commission’s model code of conduct for airing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation to announce ‘Mission Shakti’ by taking the feed of the speech from YouTube.

The poll panel is studying the Prime Minister’s surprise announcement of the A-SAT missile test Wednesday to see if it violated the model code, which is in place after election dates were announced on 10 March.

While all the addresses to the nation by the PM are shown live or recorded and aired by Doordarshan and AIR, the Modi government went to YouTube for Wednesday’s speech in light of the model code restrictions, top government sources told ThePrint.

As public broadcasters bound by the code of conduct, DD and AIR would have had to seek permission from the EC if they had to broadcast the address directly. But the two broadcasters had not sought such permission before Wednesday’s broadcast, the sources said.

Also read: PM Modi didn’t consult Election Commission before ‘Mission Shakti’ address

“The announcement was aired across the entire AIR network around the same time. No permission from EC was sought before the broadcast,” a top EC official said. “Even a non-political address like Mann Ki Baat (the PM’s monthly radio address) has to be cleared by the EC if it has to be broadcast during the model code of conduct,” the official added.

However, a highly-placed government source said Doordarshan and All India Radio were “not involved in the PM’s A-SAT speech at all”. “They simply borrowed the feed like everyone else, and there is no violation of the (election) code in doing so,” the source added.

The commission got to know about the PM’s speech only after the information came out in the media, and the officials concerned were immediately asked to closely watch the speech, the source said.

After the PM’s address, the EC held an internal meeting and decided to set up a committee of officers to probe the speech for possible violations of the model code.

While prima facie there seems to be no violation by AIR and DD, the committee will look into all possible issues concerning Wednesday’s speech by the PM, including if taking the feed from YouTube and airing the speech violated the model code.

The model code prohibits ministers from using government platforms for political advertising of any kind or use of government machinery to promote the work done by a government after the code comes into force.

The fourth point under the ‘Party in Power’ section of the MCC says, “…Misuse of official mass media during the election period for partisan coverage of political news & publicity regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided.”

Also read: Bharat Mata chants & ode to Vajpayee’s muscular ‘Shakti’ — how Modi made the most of A-SAT

This report has been updated to include new information and comments.

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  1. Doordarshan and All India Radio are a pale shadow of what they once were. Hence the rest of the media has been won over.

  2. Wait, but why did DD or Lok Sabha channel or any of them carry any logo or sign saying ‘Courtesy YouTube’?

  3. Don’t be a pappu. If Pak attacks India today will you tell the army that you should not attack Pak till elections are over? There will be a strategic reason for everything. Today, a resolution is moved in the UN to freeze Massod Azhars assets and this would have been done to pressure China. Development of India’s interest should not be stopped because of elections.
    And regarding Rafale, no other government on the past has been transparent to the maximum extent possible
    With regard to Dr. Saraswat, he has categorically stated that the building blocks for the missile are in place and simulation has been carried out but no go ahead was received from UPA to build it. He also stated that back then in UPA there was no satellite available to carry out the test on.
    Opposition has an agenda to demean the good work done by current government but that does not mean we should fall prey to it. Tell me one time they indulged in constructive criticism

  4. Do we really expect to Modi to care about letter and/or the spirit of practices and institutions of a democracy? He seems to obsessed about being in power. It does not matter to him the cost the society has to pay in the long run. We have enough darbaris who will continue to feed his ego and say that he is the best thing that has happened to the country, irrespective of the fact that his policies and practices have caused disaster all around. We will all be therefore to justify his choices by saying – were made with best intentions, he is not corrupt, he has courage, and so on. if nothing works, we will have people hiding information or adjusting back series to show that the country has made great progress. SC is handed over information in sealed envelope in the name of national security, when the questions are about following laid down procedures.
    Dr Saraswat today is talking about how he was not given permission to test ASAT. In 2012, he statement in public domain does not seem to suggest that. Where is the truth? We have war mongers in TV channel, on WhatsApp, in print media, in public and god alone knows where all. How do we expect a sane discussion, forget sane, how do we expect a discussion?

    We, of course, now have defence lobby (domestic and international) that would love the institutions and processed being subverted for their private gain.

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