EC blocks Modi web series, but no firewall for PM live on NaMo TV

After biopic, EC bans Modi web series
Image courtesy: www.erosnow.com
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New Delhi: The Election Commission on Saturday banned the online streaming of the web series 'Modi: Journey of a Common Man', stating that no biopic material which can disturb the level-playing field during the Lok Sabha elections can be displayed.

The directions were conveyed by the EC to Eros Now, the producers of the web series.

"You are hereby directed to stop forthwith the online streaming and remove all connected content of the web series ‘Modi: Journey of a Common Man' till further orders. A compliance report may also be sent immediately," the EC order said.

The web series, which was launched on the OTT medium earlier this month - just days ahead of the polls - was playing on even though the EC had stopped the release of Bollywood biopic 'PM Narendra Modi' from releasing on April 11, when the Lok Sabha elections began.

The story of both the film and web series revolve around the Modi's journey from his humble beginnings to becoming the prime minister.

In its latest order, the EC has reminded the makers of the web series of its previous order in which it clearly said that "any biopic material in the nature of biography/hagiography sub-serving the purposes of any political entity or individual entity connected to it, which is intended to, or which has the potential to disturb the level playing field during the elections, should not be displayed in electronic media including cinematograph during the operation of the Model Code of Conduct".

Five out of 10 episodes of 'Modi: Journey of a Common Man' had quietly made its way to the OTT space on April 3, even as the brouhaha over the film 'PM Narendra Modi' gathered steam.

Umesh Shukla, the director of the web series, had earlier told IANS that the release of the show was not planned in a way to coincide with the elections.

"I was working on it for almost a year. It could have come out a month earlier as well, but it got delayed owing to some technical glitches... My web series is not about politics. It is more about a character and his journey," he had said.

NaMo TV okay

However, the EC had said on Thursday that the BJP-sponsored NaMo TV can air live speeches of the PM during the "election silence period" as long as there is no reference to the candidate or constituency going to poll in that particular phase.

On a tweet by Congress president Rahul Gandhi seeking votes for his party on the proposed 'Nyay' scheme, the officer said it does not violate election norms as no candidate or constituency that went to polls Thursday was named.

The EC has already made it clear that according to electoral laws, the platform cannot display "election matter" during the silence period in a particular phase of the poll.

Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act "prohibits" display of any "election matter" by means of "cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus", 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a particular constituency.

This phase is called the "silence period" as it allows a voter to make up his or her mind on whom to vote without being influenced by political campaigning.

Section 126 is not applicable on the print media.

The direction, sources said, was issued to bring clarity on the applicability of "silence period" on NaMo TV.

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