BJP's NaMo TV was flagged by the election commission recently for airing content that wasn't pre-certified | @narendramodi/ Twitter
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New Delhi: NaMo TV, a channel named after the prime minister, has been on air for a week now but never applied for a broadcast licence, highly-placed government sources told ThePrint.

It also does not have a compulsory security clearance and this makes the enterprise illegal under broadcast laws.

An official in the Information and Broadcasting ministry said it is possibly a first in the history of broadcasting in India that a channel had gone on air without any permission from the government or even applying for it.

“There have been instances of cable operators airing Pakistani or Chinese channels without permission in some places but this is possibly the first time when an Indian television channel, possibly owned by a politician or a political party, has gone on air without any permission,” the I&B ministry official said.

Since it has not applied for a licence, not much is known about the ownership of NaMo TV and the teleport or system that is being used for uplinking/downlinking the channel. There is also no clarity on whether the channel has been classified as news or non-news, which in turn has a bearing on the amount of security deposit that it has to pay to the government.

The channel also does not feature on the list of permitted channels, issued by the I&B, as of 31 March.

“There are several channels that do not feature in the list because they were either not permitted a license or the process is underway, but in this case, permissions were never sought,” the I&B ministry official added.

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NaMo TV, a channel covering Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches and election rallies, went on air last week after election dates were announced and is available on all prominent DTH platforms.

Top sources said the I&B ministry is in a fix over what action to take against the channel. It is learnt that the ministry is considering issuing a notice to DTH operators for carrying an unauthorised channel.

ThePrint contacted the I&B ministry spokesperson and its secretary Amit Khare but received no response until the time of publishing this report.

ThePrint also contacted BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli for information about NaMo TV. Kohli advised this reporter to speak to the party’s social media head Amit Malviya. Malviya didn’t respond to calls or messages.

The report will be updated when they respond.


Also read: Election Commission seeks report from I&B ministry on NaMo TV


Breach of security

Multiple sources have corroborated to ThePrint that NaMo TV being on air without clearances is a breach of security as granting of a license to any channel is a multilayered, foolproof, process involving several ministries, including the ministries of Information & Broadcasting (I&B), Home Affairs and Department of Space.

Under the process, the owner has to apply to the I&B ministry seeking a licence to start a television channel.

The name of the channel’s owner, the company owning the channel and the logo of the channel has to be specified in the application. The permission is issued for a period of 10 years after security clearance from the home ministry and a subsequent green signal from the Department of Space.

After the permission is issued, the channel applies to the Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing of the Department of Telecommunications for allocation of the frequency of the respective teleport.

Only a company registered under the Indian Companies Act is eligible to apply for permission for either a news and current affairs channel or a non-news channel.

Fresh security clearance is required for renewal of any channel.

“The reason for such a stringent security clearance process is to weed out any suspicious entities from broadcasting in India,” a government official said. “As part of the security check, the entire background check of the owners and company applying for the license is carried out.”

In fact, the security clearance process was so complicated and tedious, that the government had suggested simplifying it on multiple requests from the industry for the sake of ease of doing business.

The process had also drawn criticism over the years for political favouritism or interference over granting of licenses.


Also read: AAP writes to Election Commission against launch of Namo TV


Channel under EC scanner

On Wednesday, The Economic Times reported that the Election Commission had sought a report from the I&B ministry over the launch of NaMo TV. The report quoted sources as saying that the government will tell the EC that it is an advertising platform and not a permitted channel.

Ministry sources, however, told ThePrint that for it to even feature in its current form as a channel, it is required to take permissions.

The EC’s action came after the Congress complained to the poll watchdog, alleging that Rule 7(3) of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 was violated in the launch of the channel and there were also violations of several sections of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, as well as the poll panel’s instructions against government-funded advertisements or surrogate advertising in favour of political parties or candidates.

Industry sources said that multiple system operators (MSOs) have been informally asked to feature the channel prominently.

It is currently available on DTH platforms such as Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV, Dish TV, and cable TV network Siti Networks. In some DTH platforms, the channel is available under multiple categories like news and movies, making it unclear what category it is under.

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13 Comments Share Your Views

13 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t know why PM Modi require a separate TV channel as expecting few most have turned into NaMo channel. Moreover Modiji himself is a amalgamation of Radio and TV, even film now. I wonder if this is same party who were targeting Ms Indira Gandhi for misuse (which she did during emergency) and wanted to make TV independent from government. Are we going back to become Germany of World War Era.

  2. This is a banana republic, all things immoral, illegal goes on uninhibited, unhindered , no responsibility, no accountability. When The PM indulges in communal propaganda, the media looks the other way. With so many flagrant violation of the constitution and the Law by the PM rant gets virulent and radio active. he has to pay for his sins one day, law of nature is such. The gods whom it wishes to destroy drives them mad first.

  3. As a child, father who had started life as a professor of economics, taught me the law of diminishing returns. How the first piece of chocolate would taste the best, the others progressively less so, till one started feeling a little sick.

  4. There are many flaws in the licensing system. There is no monitoring at all. The Ministry doesn’t know how many news channels are existing as on date. This is because a channel licensed under News and Current Affairs category can telecast 100% entertainment and a Non News channel cannot air even 1% of news. Many channels licensed as news channels are confined to music and General Entertainment. Secondly, channels who have license and are not operating are leading away their licenses and those who want to launch channels are using this opportunity. The inordinate delays, sometimes more than a year, to grant license is also yet another reason for depending on the leased licenses. Officially the license holder is not allowed to lease his license. However, they enter into a Time Slot sale agreement. The license holder will sell 23 hrs 55 minutes of his airtime to the lessee. There is no check on these transactions. The Teleport operator knows pretty well these deals. The EMMC, which is supposed to monitor the channels never cares. In Andhra Pradesh / Telangana alone about 5 channels were telecast without a proper license in their name. One non news channel could telecast news for more than two years and their journalists were granted State Govt Accreditations.

  5. I think till now no one is understandimg their fundamental rights of voting. I have seen that most of the educated mass doesnot frachise their votes due to which uneducated mass either wantedly or unwantedly voting the wrong candidate. Please urge all the educated mass to vote under any circumstance for the right person.

  6. The language of the report is a give away. It is a pure propaganda on behalf of some political party/ parties. When the reporters have no knowledge of the subject, it is a common knowledge for them to use phrases like ‘a source’ or’ reliable source/sources’ to paddle their own or their master’s views.

    • Idoit it’s not biased media house. Dumbass you should question the government why such a lapse occurred but isn’t you like a bhakt can’t stop licking ass of your master.

    • I do not understand how you are describing this article as biased. Yes, there is a new channel called NAMO TV dedicated to an individual’s activities. If it is a news channel, then that itself is against the creed of journalism. If it is a general entertainment channel, are you saying that Modi’s speeches are entertainment?
      Second, if the BJP government itself is saying that such a channel never even applied to it for a license and that no one knows who is its owner and what frequency and logo it is using, don’t you think something is seriously wrong? If the department of Space has not alloted frequency & teleport, then is it a foreign channel using foreign frequencies and satellites? If license is not obtained, then it is obviously illegal. If owner is not known, then it is obviously a shell company.
      Third, if there was no merit in this argument, then why EC has taken cognisance and why is government not able to answer if it is so strict & disciplined in its functioning. Doesn’t it mean Chowkidar finally let a chor into the broadcast industry?

      • All these acts indicate desperation on the part of Modi?If Congress had started such a channel it would have been taken down in hours and someone jailed,including operators displaying content.We are truely now a banana republic,where govt servants are afraid to take action.It just took 5 years for this chaos to occur.

  7. It seems another propaganda by opposition and their slaves.

    But I’m sure that a three time CM and a PM for 5 years will not do a mistake to give a chance to group of corrupts to question his leadership.

    Let’s wait and watch.

  8. Every single monster haunting the congress is created by itself.

    Who created the uneven playing field by giving less licence fee and various other discounts in the name of news? Or for that matter subsidised printing paper? That’s how the influx of all kinds of people floating news organizations started.

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