NaMo TV will not be allowed to air election propaganda for two days in those Indian constituencies going to the polls, as the second phase of voting gets underway on 18 April.
India operates a 48 hour poll silence period which the pro-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) channel must adhere to, the Electoral Commission has said. A direction to comply with Section 126 (i) (b) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, has reportedly been sent to the BJP.
There has been controversy about the newly launched channel, which is available across leading direct-to-home (DTH) TV platforms in India, as it aired political content and pre-recorded speeches from Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the world’s largest democracy began to vote on 11 April.
The Electoral Commission has reportedly also now told the Delhi chief electoral officer that all expenditure incurred on programmes and advertisements on NaMo TV should be identified appropriately and attributed to candidates or political parties.
The political party has already been asked to take down non-certified content and the Delhi chief electoral officer has set up a dedicated team to monitor the channel’s content.
Since NaMo TV’s appearance at the beginning of April, there have been complaints from Opposition parties, including the Congress and AAP, querying NaMo TV’s authority to broadcast.
India’s Information & Broadcasting Ministry had told the Electoral Commission that NaMo TV is out of its remit because it is a platform service offered by DTH operators, and does not require uplinking/ downlinking permissions from the government.