Supreme court in its judgment on 26/11 slammed media for their lust for TRP which jeopardized the security of the nation, and even helped terrorist know the movement of Indian forces. Below are the important points from today's verdict page 245-249.
# It is evident that the terrorists who were entrenched at those places and more than them, their collaborators across the border were watching the full show on TV. In the transcripts there are many references to the media reports and the visuals being shown on the TV screen.
# The collaborators sitting in their hideouts across the border came to know about the appellant being caught alive from Indian TV: they came to know about the killing of high ranking police officers also from Indian TV.
# At another place in the transcript the collaborators tell the terrorists in Taj Hotel that the dome at the top (of the building) had caught fire. The terrorists holed up in some room were not aware of this. The collaborators further advise the terrorists that the stronger they make the fire the better it would be for them.
# The terrorists attacks at all the places, in the goriest details, were shown live on the Indian TV from beginning to end almost non-stop.
# All the channels were competing with each other in showing the latest developments on a minute to minute basis, including the positions and the movements of the security forces engaged in flushing out the terrorists.
# The reckless coverage of the terrorist attack by the channels thus gave rise to a situation where on the one hand the terrorists were completely hidden from the security forces and they had no means to know their exact position or even the kind of firearms and explosives they possessed and on the other hand the positions of the security forces, their weapons and all their operational movements were being watched by the collaborators across the border on TV screens and being communicated to the terrorists. But it is beyond doubt that the way their operations were freely shown made the task of the security forces not only exceedingly difficult but also dangerous and risky.
# Any attempt to justify the conduct of the TV channels by citing the right to freedom of speech and expression would be totally wrong and unacceptable in such a situation. The freedom of expression, like all other freedoms under Article 19, is subject to reasonable restrictions. An action tending to violate another person’s right to life guaranteed under Article 21 or putting the national security in jeopardy can never be justified by taking the plea of freedom of speech and expression.
# The shots and visuals that were shown live by the TV channels could have also been shown after all the terrorists were neutralized and the security operations were over. But, in that case the TV programmes would not have had the same shrill, scintillating and chilling effect and would not have shot up the TRP ratings of the channels.
# It must, therefore, be held that by covering live the terrorists attack on Mumbai in the way it was done, the Indian TV channels were not serving any national interest or social cause. On the contrary they were acting in their own commercial interests putting the national security in jeopardy.
# It is in such extreme cases that the credibility of an institution is tested. The coverage of the Mumbai terror attack by the mainstream electronic media has done much harm to the argument that any regulatory mechanism for the media must only come from within.