Following a complaint from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress party about NaMo TV covering live Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaigns, the Election Commission of India (EC) is learnt to have sought details of the channel from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B).
Congress and the AAP wanted to know whether political parties having own channels was violative of the model code of conduct.
The Commission, among other issues, is learnt to have asked about details of the launch of the channel.
The channel, also called ‘Content TV’, is named after PM Modi and carries his picture as its logo. It came up surreptitiously just weeks ahead of the general elections and is already available on all major national DTH operators, including Tata Sky, Dish TV, Airtel, Siti Network, among others.
Modi’s official app owned by BJP, the NaMo app reportedly has an option called NaMo TV, on which the Prime Minister’s past and live speeches can be listened to.
The channel shows speeches of the Prime Minister and interviews of BJP leaders.
Since the channel is not mentioned in the Union Ministry for Information and Broadcasting’s list of permitted private satellite channels in the country, Congress told the EC that either the channel
“Content TV” is being broadcast as a “government-sponsored channel” or it has “not got any official clearance” from the I&B Ministry and “the contents are being broadcast in complete violation of the rules and regulations of cable televisions”.
The party has asked the EC to direct the I&B Ministry to suspend the channel.
The AAP had recently written to the ECI complaining against Namo TV, asking the poll panel if political parties having TV channels was in adherence to the model code of conduct. The Arvind Kejriwal-led party asked the ECI if the BJP had sought approval for the launch of the channel, which has Prime Minister Modi’s photograph on its logo and runs all his speeches.
“Can permission be granted to a party to have its own TV channel even after the model code is enforced? If no permission was given by the ECI, then what action has been taken?” AAP asked in its letter to the poll panel.
It had also asked if BJP had approached the Media Certification Committee, established to certify content and cost of a telecast.
Links with BJP
BJP has not officially claimed that Namo TV is owned by it, but, apart from the logo which is the same as Modi’s official app owned by BJP, the NaMo app has an option called NaMo TV, on which the Prime Minister’s past and live speeches can be listened to, reported The Indian Express (IE).
Union minister Piyush Goyal had tweeted about the channel on Sunday with information about the channel number for it across different DTH networks. Tweeting about Modi’s “Main bhi Chowkidar” event, Goyal wrote, “Watch it live on NaMo TV, along with lot more exciting content,” reported IE.
Earlier on Sunday, BJP’s official handle had also tweeted about the channel, saying, “Capture the colours of elections… Watch the dance of democracy… Say NaMo again with NaMo TV. Tune in to get real-time coverage of PM Modi’s election campaign and a lot more fascinating content.”
Both, Goyal’s and BJP’s tweets also had a picture attached with the logo of the channel and details of the channel number across DTH platforms.
Misuse of DD
The EC has also learnt to have written separately to Doordarshan for telecasting live the ‘Main bhi chowkidar’ programme of Mr. Modi on March 31 evening for one hour.
The Congress had written to ECI against the BJP’s alleged “misuse” of Doordarshan in broadcasting certain speeches by PM Modi.
The Congress has called for a level playing field for all parties in election campaigning.
Modi’s ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ programme was being broadcast live on DD News and its YouTube channel, and the said programme was even being promoted on social media handles of DD News, the Congress memorandum said.