Tata Sky CEO Harit Nagpal today clarified that the tweets related to NaMo TV put up on the DTH service provider's official Twitter handle were incorrect and that the recently-launched channel was not a "Hindi news service". "NaMo TV is a Special Service," Nagpal told NDTV, adding, "Tata Sky carries many Special Services in different genres like Education, Self Help and so on ... Special Services do not need a licence."
Tata Sky users had taken to the social media platform to question why NaMo TV was suddenly showing up on their channel list despite not having subscribed to it. That's when the DTH player tweeted that "Channel no 512 is NAMO TV, it is a Hindi news service which provides the latest breaking news on national politics". Another user was told that "the channel is added to all the subscribers as a launch offer. There is no option to delete the individual channel".
This development had fanned the debate over the already-controversial channel. It hardly fitted in with the Information and Broadcasting ministry's stand before the Election Commission that NaMo TV is an advertising platform of the BJP and not a licenced channel. India has roughly 350 unlicensed channels that come alive during elections.
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In case you missed the buzz, NaMo TV airs Prime Minister Narendra Modi election speeches every day and propagates various policy initiatives taken by him. The channel, which has Modi's image and initials as its logo, is being hosted by all major DTH platforms.
On Tuesday, Congress and AAP filed a complaint against NaMo TV, which was launched on March 31, asking how the channel was launched after the Model Code of Conduct came into force. They are alleging that the ruling party has sneaked in the channel to push its campaign. The Election Commission has also written separately to Doordarshan for its live broadcast of PM Modi's public address 'Main bhi chowkidaar' on March 31.
According to sources, the I&B ministry, which is preparing its report on the channel for the poll panel, is likely to take the stand that NaMo TV "is not a normal channel" and does not figure in the official list of approved channels of the ministry. Instead it is an advertisement channel which does not require a prior permission and it is run on certain DTH channels on payment made by the BJP. It is not on the list of permitted private satellite TV channels on the ministry's website, the report added.
As Business Today previously pointed out, this is not the first time the BJP has launched a news channel. In 2007, during state assembly election in Gujarat, the Modi led BJP had launched a channel called, Vande Gujarat. Again, in 2012, the state BJP unit had collaborated with five Gujarati channels to broadcast NaMo TV.
The Congress isn't far behind - Tiranga TV, backed by Congress leader Kapil Sibal, was also launched in January this year.
Edited by Sushmita Choudhury Agarwal with PTI inputs