Despite EC’s Censure, NaMo TV continues to be Aired in the Streets of Varanasi

Varanasi: Despite the Election Commission’s (EC) censure, NaMo TV has been broadcasting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches and election campaigns on DTH platforms like Tata Sky and Airtel. Strikingly, the leading business enterprise of Varanasi (PM’s constituency), the Jalan Group, has put a big screen in front of its grand showroom, located on Chowk Godowlia road, airing NaMo TV as if to prove its affection and loyalty towards the party.

Namo TV

Reportedly, the broadcasting starts in the evening and lasts till late night making the showroom a centre of  attraction. Passer-bys and the customers halt for a few minutes to watch the PM talk about his achievements and make promises this election season. It can be the saffron party’s strategy to influence the voters as the state goes for polls in all seven phases.

After the Congress filed a complaint with the election authority about the channel disturbing the level playing field, it issued a directive on April 11 stating that as the NaMo TV is sponsored by the BJP, all its content should be pre-certified by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC). The EC directive read, “It has been brought to the notice of the commission that NaMo TV/content TV is a platform service offered by DTH operators to the BJP on a paid basis. Any political publicity material or contents being displayed on electronic media without the requisite certification from competent authority (MCMC in this case) should be removed immediately and any political content shall only be permitted strictly in accordance with the EC’s instructions in this regard.”

On April 16, the EC told the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer that the BJP-sponsored NaMo TV will have to comply with the 48-hour ‘election silence’ ahead of every phase of voting. This order was based on the 2004 Supreme Court (SC) landmark judgement in Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting vs M/s Gemini TV Pvt Ltd & Others on April 13, 2004, wherein the SC directed that “advertisement of political nature on TV Channel or Cable Network” could be issued “only after obtaining necessary clearance from the (Election) Commission or the (EC’s) designated officer.” Further, section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 “prohibits” display of any “election matter” by means of “cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus,” 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a particular constituency.

This is not the first time that the BJP has failed to comply with the EC’s order. On April 17, just one day prior to the second phase, there were reports of the controversial channel being aired in different states such as Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Assam, Karnataka and Bihar. Not only that, the channel was aired in those constituencies which were to go to polls the next day.

With the EC drawing flak from the SC for its lenient approach towards the ruling party’s gross violations of the Model Code of Conduct, such reports raises questions on the role of the Chief and the state Elector officer.

Prime Minister’s parliamentary constituency, Varanasi, will go to polls in the last phase scheduled on May 19.




Related Articles