NaMo TV, sponsored by the BJP, cannot display ‘election matter’ during the “silence period” prescribed in the electoral law in a particular phase of the poll, the Election Commission has informed.
The EC has asked the chief electoral officer of Delhi to ensure that its directions are followed in each of the remaining six phases of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act “prohibits” display of any “election matter” by means of “cinematography, television or other similar apparatus”, 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a particular constituency. This phase is called the ‘silence period’ as it allows a voter to make up his or her mind on whom to vote without being influenced by political campaigning.
The direction, sources said, was issued to bring clarity on the applicability of ‘silence period’ on NaMo TV.
According to a report in ANI, live coverage can be done on NaMo TV but any pre-recorded content cannot be streamed for 48 hours before the polling date, the Election Commission informed.
State Chief Election Commissioners (CEC) have been informed to observe this strictly.
The Election Commission had last week ruled that since the 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.
“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.
The poll panel also wrote to Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer to execute its instructions and “immediately” file a compliance report.
Following the EC’s directive, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Delhi wrote to the saffron party to ensure that all political content not approved be removed.
The BJP wrote back to the Delhi poll body that “documentary content” has been removed from the channel. The party further said it will not run any content that was “not certified” or “returned” by the media certification and monitoring committee (MCMC).
Two weeks back, 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.
The channel was launched on March 31, nearly two weeks after the Model Code of Conduct came into effect and ahead of the Lok Sabha polls that began on April 11.
(With agency inputs)