Typically, such a story would be great grist for the channels. In the past anything concerning the Bachchans, whether it was Amitabh's illness, the Aiswarya-Abhishek wedding or Aishwarya Rai's Karva Chauth, all generated a great media scrum. But now, in a bid to tone down their celebrity coverage channels have decided upon the following guideline while covering the birth of Amitabh Bachchan's grandchild:
- No pre-coverage of the event.
- Story of the birth of the baby to run only after, and on the basis of, official announcement.
- Story not to run on breaking news band.
- No camera or OB vans at hospital or any other location (like the Bachchans' homes Pratiksha or Jalsa) related to the story.
- Channels will only go for photo-op or press conference if invited.
- Channels will not carry any MMS or photo of the child. We can carry if issued by the family
- No astrology show to be done on this issue.
- No 11.11.11 astro shows to be done.
- The duration of story to be around a minute/ninety seconds.
- Obviously, unauthorized entry into hospital not permitted.
While Amitabh Bachchan in his tweets has expressed ignorance about these rules, it is believed that one of his blog postings of a few days ago forced this rethink in the broadcast media. In his post, dated November 1, Bachchan wrote:
The entire day and afternoon has been spent in laughing among ourselves and ROTF (Rolling On the Floor) on the ridiculous time and attention being given in the electronic media on the birthday of Aishwarya...all of which is completely and entirely made up," before going on to detail his not-so-complimentary thoughts on the media.
Cut to the quick the Broadcast Editors' Association that has over three hundred channels as its members, came up with the above mentioned guidelines. NK Singh, general secretary of the BEA refused to discuss the media move, only saying:
"The main purpose (of the guideline) is to make Indian electronic news media more value-based and purposeful for broader public cause. I cannot respond to your email per se but I can only tell you about the sublime purpose which the BEA is seeking to achieve."
Another broadcaster who did not wish to be named, said with some asperity, "Is this self regulation or censorship? And why only for this story? Isn't it ironic that a move which seeks to curb publicity will find a mention in all the newspapers tomorrow?"