NaMo TV, a channel exclusively featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches and pro-BJP content in the middle of the national election campaign, is available on most DTH platforms without a license and in possible violation of the poll code. A tweet from DTH service provider Tata Sky, which called NaMo TV a “Hindi news service”, deepened the controversy today.
The company later clarified that NaMo TV is “not a Hindi news service” but a special service via internet that does not need a government licence.
The Information and Broadcasting ministry has been asked by the Election Commission for a report on NaMo TV, which was launched quietly on March 31 (Sunday) and has since been promoted by BJP handles, including that of PM Modi. Opposition parties have accused the government of brazenly violating the election rules and misusing its clout to launch a propaganda channel.
On Wednesday, sources in the broadcast ministry claimed NaMo TV is not a regular channel but an advertising platform that doesn’t need a license.
But in response to a customer’s question today, Tata Sky tweeted that NaMo TV is a “Hindi news service which provides the latest breaking news on national politics”.
The tweet provoked even more questions, forcing Tata Sky CEO Harit Nagpal to clarify: “NaMo TV is not a Hindi News service. If someone in the frontline at Tata Sky has tweeted or said that it is a news service, it is a mistake.”
He said NaMo TV “does not fall into any genre” and the feed is “coming from the BJP via Internet”.
Special services do not need a license, he added.
The controversial channel “is added to all subscribers as a launch offer” and there is “no option to delete the individual channel”, Tata Sky has said in tweets.
The 24-vour channel borrows the PM’s initials and his image for its logo, and is available on various DTH and cable TV platforms. It has been airing PM Modi’s speeches and interviews of BJP leaders.
Soon after its launch, PM Modi posted a tweet urging people to watch his interaction with chowkidars live on NaMoTV.
The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have complained to the Election Commission against the channel.
The BJP denied any violation of rules. “I don’t know the funding methodology but I have been speaking to people in the party who handle these matters and let me assure you that all payments are by cheque and everything is audited. It is all transparent,” said the party’s Tom Vadakkan.
The model code of conduct came into effect on March 10 after the Election Commission announced seven-phase elections from April 11 to May 19. Counting of votes will take place on May 23.