20 Dec : In light of criticism that the electronic media coverage of Mumbai terror attacks helped the perpetrators, the government has said a media consultative committee is on the anvil to authorise video footage for broadcast during a crisis situation.
Pointing out that a high-level meeting was held between the government and media representatives in Delhi earlier this week, I & B Minister Anand Sharma told reporters at Panaji on Saturday that key ministries like Home, Defence, Tourism and I & B discussed both sides agreed on formulating ethics for "mature" television journalism during sensitive times.
During the meeting, the government is learnt to have suggested that the television broadcasts of the Mumbai terror attacks had a negative effect on tourism and on operational to-dos of the Army and National Security Guard.
"The News Broadcasters appreciated the concerns expressed by various security and administrative outfits and agreed to suitably address them," he said.
"The Mumbai terror attacks were a learning opportunity both for the government as well as the media," Sharma added.
The Minister also announced the setting up of a Standing Media Consultative Committee to be chaired by the Information & Broadcasting Secretary Sushma Singh with representatives of key ministries, News Broadcasters Association and Editors Guild as members.
He said the committee, in keeping with the practice in most western countries, would put in place a mechanism for holding official briefing for the media and supplying authorized video footage for broadcast during crisis situations.
Quoting the words of a noted television journalist, who faced criticism for coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks, Sharma said "extra-ordinary circumstances require careful coverage, not hampering rescue or counter operations."
He said a training programme is being introduced soon in consultation with the ministries of Home and Defence for mediapersons on how to cover crisis situations without exposing themselves to risks.