The government has prohibited the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) from filming in India’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries for “irreparable damage done to India’s reputation”. Imposed with “immediate effect”, the five-year ban applies to filming for BBC documentaries and news reports.
On February 15, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had in a showcause notice issued two days earlier criticised the BBC for “grossly erroneous” reporting and recommended the blacklisting of the BBC’s South Asia correspondent Justin Rowlatt for a documentary that highlighted the government’s “ruthless anti-poaching strategy” for the Kaziranga tiger reserve in Assam.
On February 27, the NTCA issued a memorandum, asking the chief wildlife wardens of all tiger-range states and field directors of tiger reserves not to grant filming permission to the BBC for five years.
The ministry’s April 10 order upholds and extends the ban from tiger reserves to all national parks and sanctuaries.
The order states that the BBC “projected a negative, malicious and sensational portrayal of India’s conservation success story at Kaziranga Tiger Reserve”; “deviated from the original script submitted to the Ministry of External Affairs and NTCA” and, did irreparable damage to India’s reputation by telecasting the film worldwide.
When contacted, a BBC spokesperson said: “The authorities’ reaction to this report on an important global issue like the appropriate way to combat poaching is extremely disappointing. The programme was balanced, impartial and accurately reported what we found on arrival. It covered both the successes achieved through India’s conservation policies and the challenges, which includes the impact on communities living next to the parks. We approached the relevant government authorities to ensure their position was fully reflected but they declined to take part.
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