Feb 24, 2022

TRP Scam and the Ethics of News Broadcasting

The Mumbai police has submitted messages that were allegedly exchanged between Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami and Partho Dasgupta, the former chief executive officer (CEO) of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), discussing ways to “manipulate” television point ratings (TRPs). The messages also show Goswami’s proximity to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and indicate that he misused this access.


Did you know? 

News broadcasters and television journalists have to follow a Code of ethics and broadcasting standards. They are answerable to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority for violating this Code. The Authority decides on complaints against broadcasters in relation to the content of any broadcast.


What are the principles that news broadcasters must follow?

According to the Code, news broadcasters must follow some commonly accepted guidelines, including:


  • Impartiality and objectivity in reporting: TV news channels are responsible for maintaining accuracy in reporting, and immediately correcting any errors if required. News channels should try not to broadcast defamatory content i.e., content which deliberately damages someone’s reputation.


  • Ensuring neutrality: TV news channels must be neutral and provide equal opportunity for all affected parties to present their view in any dispute or conflict.
  • Endangering national security: News channels should not allow broadcasts that encourage secessionist (anti-national) groups and interests. News broadcasts should not reveal information that endangers lives and national security.


How to complain against a violation of the Code?   

Any person can complain to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority about a breach of the Code by a news broadcaster. Before making a complaint to the Authority, it is compulsory for the person to first make a formal complaint to the concerned broadcaster. If not satisfied with the broadcaster’s response, the aggrieved person can then complain to the Authority.


Download the complaint form or file an online complaint here.


Punishing the broadcaster

After receiving a complaint, if the Authority believes that a broadcaster has violated the Code, it might hold an inquiry after giving the concerned broadcaster an opportunity to present their side of the issue. After the inquiry, the Authority might:


  • Warn, criticize, or express disapproval against the broadcaster
  • Impose a fine of up to Rupees one lakh upon the broadcaster
  • Recommend for suspension/cancellation of the broadcaster’s license.