Norms say DD and All India Radio are mandated to cover live only government events, not those of political parties.
New Delhi: A video of BJP chief Amit Shah struggling to unfurl the national flag at the party headquarters in Delhi went viral on social media Wednesday. However, what turned out to be more embarrassing for the ruling party and the government was that the entire episode was covered live by Doordarshan News, a first for the public broadcaster.
As per norms, DD and All India Radio are mandated give live coverage to only government events, not those of political parties.
ThePrint has learnt that a separate DD News team was sent to cover Shah’s event. The state-owned broadcaster has not given live coverage to any other flag-hoisting ceremony — either of the Congress or other political party — in the past.
The norm has been to get video clips of such events recorded, which are broadcast later as part of a news bulletin.
Wednesday’s video shows Shah pulling the wrong rope of the flag because of which the Tricolour first falls to the ground before it is finally unfurled.
The video also catches a background voice, probably of a DD commentator going “tch tch …disaster” as Shah unfurled the flag.
A senior official from Prasar Bharati said that while live covering Wednesday’s event is not against broadcast codes, it is against the specific policy guidelines of covering political parties, that mandates giving equal coverage to all.
The official said that as per the live broadcast norms, official functions of Prime Minister and President are covered by the public broadcaster, not political functions.
“Even among the official functions, only important ones are done live, and the rest are covered in clips as part of news,” the official said.
“Party office functions are not covered under this norm; they get live coverage only when election results are out, etc,” added the official.
“However, the government of the day can always set a precedence,” the official said.
Defending the decision to live cover the BJP event, a senior official from DD News told ThePrint that several functions of political parties were covered live previously by DD News.
“It depends on the news value of the event,” the DD official said.
This is not the first time that the Independence Day coverage by India’s public service broadcaster has stirred a controversy. Last year, All India Radio had refused to air former Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar’s speech for being critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government at the Centre.
Sarkar’s speech had not violated AIR’s broadcast code.