NaMo TV: Country is watching the Election Commission

Published : April 03, 2019 17:09 IST

Leaders of most countries, including North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, do not have a television channel dedicated to themselves, but not so Prime Minister Narendra Modi. NaMo TV, a 24x7 satellite television channel on Modi, began operations on March 31.

It has no permissions from the regulatory bodies and is available across DTH (direct to home) service providers even as the Election Commission dithers on taking a decision on what is a patently illegal channel. 

NaMo TV is not among the 901 channels listed under the head Private Permitted Satellite TV Channels in the website of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Yet, it continues to broadcast as of April 3, and neither the Election Commission nor the Ministry has thought it fit to stop the broadcast.

A company should have a net worth of Rs.20 crore to commence operations in India. It has to obtain a host of permissions and licences, beginning with the licence for setting up the uplink hub, besides approval for uplinking from India and a no objection certificate from the Wireless Planning Commission of India. It has to submit its share-holding pattern (which is a public document) and a mandatory security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs. Did the company that set up the NaMo channel do all this? No one knows, making it the most secretive channel in India. This model is perhaps an open invitation for other channels, even of the porn variety, to bypass regulators and broadcast in India.

The Modi channel is of a piece with the nationwide broadcast by Modi, bypassing the E.C., after the ASAT launch. The E.C., which went strictly by the rules and not the spirit of the law, did not find anything wrong in this blatant violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

On April 3, a film ‘Bose – the Movie’ ran for most of the day, with clips of Modi’s speeches in the Lok Sabha and elsewhere pushed in through until around 1:15 p.m. But after that the movie played without a break. A scroll at the bottom of the screen had lines from Modi’s public speeches and also reminded viewers of an upcoming public meeting later in the day. 

It was only after the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party lodged a formal complaint that the E.C. wrote to the I&B Ministry to seek a clarification.

According to the NaMo TV website, “NAMO TV is your hindi news website on narendra modi live, narendra modi video, narendra modi app, narendra modi news, narendra modi latest speech. We provide you with the latest breaking news on indian politics… namo tv is the perfect platform for those who want to be updated with the Political System of the country.”

NAMO TV on Facebook claims 1.5 million followers. According to Facebook, the page was created on August 14, 2017. The total money spent by page on ads relating to politics or issues of importance from February 2019 to March 30, 2019, is Rs.82,235, according to Facebook. This money needs to be reflected in the account of either Modi or the BJP. If not, this is a violation of the directives of the Election Commission.

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