Media fraternity condemns government directed ban of independent media channels

After YouTube, notified by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, banned several independent media channels on its platform, including National Dastak and Bolta Hindustan, the Press Club of India and DIGIPUB have released statements condemning the issue.

After a ban on independent news channels was announced, the various media guilds have released statements demanding that these channels be reinstated. Groups such as the Press Club of India and DIGIPUB News India Foundation, have strongly condemned the recent move by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting ordering YouTube to block the channels of two well-known Hindi news outlets.

The Press Club has denounced these moves as an “extreme act of the government.” While DIGIPUB stated that the “repression of digital news platforms that report critically on the government … endangers the functioning of the media.” Both organisations have demanded that the government reinstate the accounts that have been banned.

The DIGIPUB is a member-ship-based organisation founded by digital news organisations, such as The NewsMinute, Scroll, and The Quint etc.

This move follows the removal of Bolta Hindustan’s channel from YouTube on April 4, following which the YouTube channel of National Dastak was also banned on April 8. Both removals came after YouTube cited a confidential order by the ministry citing a violation of the Rule 15 (2) of the Information Technology Rules, 2021 with Section 69A of the Information Technology Act 2000. With Section 69A of the Information Technology Act 2000 by these channels.

Furthermore, according to Indian Express, on April 13, YouTube channels managed by two independent journalists, Meghnad and Sohit Mishra, were reportedly served notices that limited their monetisation from the platform. The newspaper reported that these notices were related to the creation of videos related to Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). While informing them, the platform referred to their user guidelines that prohibited the use of ads for videos that held false information. The videos whose monetisation was limited include one by Mishra, which was titled “Questions over the EVM, one-sided Election Commission, and a weak democracy.” According to the Indian Express, it has garnered over 94,000 views. Similarly, another one with 40,000 views was a video on the fate of India’s elections, titled, “Will there be free and fair elections in India?”

As the Lok Sabha polling dates fast approach, these series of bans has led to a furore on social media and has raised questions about freedom of the press and the right to information in India. In its statement, the Press Club of India and DIGPUB have both expressed serious concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding these decisions, especially the undisclosed reasons behind the channel blocks and demonetisation notices. Recently, the group Reports without Borders (RSF) noted the decline in press freedom and persecution of journalists in India. In RSF’s Word Press Freedom Index 2023, India ranked at 161 out of 180 countries across the world.


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