The Election Commission on Thursday ruled that since political content being aired on NaMo TV – a channel dedicated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rallies and speeches – has not been pre-certified, it should be immediately removed.
The poll panel wrote to Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer to execute its instructions and “immediately” file a compliance report.
“As NaMo TV/Content TV is sponsored by a political party, all recorded programmes of political contents displayed on the channel/platform would be covered under the purview of the Commission’s Order… Accordingly all recorded programmes with political contents are mandatorily required to be pre-certified by the MCMC (Media Certification and Monitoring Committee) before telecasting,” the Election Commission said.
“Any political publicity materials/contents, being displayed on electronic media without the requisite certification from competent authority should be removed immediately and any political content shall only be permitted strictly in accordance with the ECI instructions in this regard,” the letter said.
Earlier, the EC had asked Delhi’s CEO to confirm if the TV channel had sought its permission to air its programmes and had got it pre-certified. It noted that the Delhi CEO had confirmed there had been no pre-certification of the content.
Officials said that the Delhi Chief Electoral office had approved the logo of NaMo TV, which the BJP said is a part of NaMo app owned by it, but did not “certify” the content since it contained old speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The BJP has said that NaMo TV is part of NaMo app, which is a digital property owned and run by it, according to the party’s IT Cell head Amit Malviya.
In its reply to the EC, the CEO office said they had received a request from the BJP to pre-certify the content.
Last week, the EC had issued a notice seeking a report from the I&B Ministry on NaMo TV launched just weeks ahead of the general election, after opposition parties, including the Congress, asked the poll body to direct the ministry to suspend the channel as it violated the Model Code of Conduct.
Hours after the EC issued notice to the I&B Ministry, the Congress accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of mocking and trampling upon democratic norms by “brazenly” running NaMo TV and asked the poll watchdog to put a stop at this “misuse” of media that seeks to disturb the level-playing field during elections.
The channel carries the picture of PM Modi on its logo. It was launched on March 31, nearly two weeks after the Model Code of Conduct came into effect and ahead of the Lok Sabha polls beginning April 11.
(With agency inputs)