Mukherjee criticises TV channels for Mumbai coverage

December 11th, 2008 - 11:34 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Thursday criticised TV channels for their 24×7 coverage of the Mumbai terrorist attack, which jeopardised the lives of hostages, and asked them to learn “where to stop and where to pause” by putting national interests above commercial considerations. “In our anxiety to beat the other channels in publicity, we were showing some crowds of people on screens. Instructions then came to the terrorists to throw a grenade at the crowds so that they would run away,” Mukherjee said in the Lok Sabha during a dicussion on the Nov 26 attack.

“Some lives were lost because of the anxiety to get publicity. If the camera was not focused there, if the crowd was not found there, perhaps these things would not have happened,” he said.

“So, we have to draw the lesson where to stop and where to pause,” he stressed.

“When they (security forces) were sacrificing their lives, at a safe distance, if somebody thinks that he will defeat his competitors by buying larger viewers by giving updated news, he may serve the interests of the company but surely he or she will not serve the interests to the nation,” Mukherjee said.

With the Mumbai attacks in the backdrop, the government Wednesday decided to set up a coordination committee with broadcasters to ensure a degree of self-regulation to ensure balanced coverage.

In a meeting with broadcasters, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting and External Affairs Anand Sharma told them that their continued coverage was having a negative effect and also affecting tourism and civil aviation.

Sharma said that while the media in the country was free, it should exercise this independence with restraint and responsibility.

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