In rare stance of protest, not quite seen since the emergency of 1975 (when Indian Express and Statesman published blank pages to protest the Indira Gandhi government’s censorship), NDTV went blank for an hour from 9pm to 10pm to protest the ban on the airing of the BBC documentary India’s Daughter.

The channel only featured a black screen with diya to protest the Indian government’s decision to ban the television broadcast of the documentary which it was scheduled to air on Sunday between 9 pm and 10 pm.

Despite the ban on the airing on television, the film was uploaded on YouTube last week and links were being shared on Facebook by many users. However, by Thursday evening, the documentary was unavailable on several YouTube channels, with the message “This content is not available on this country domain due to a court order”.

An IANS report says that that YouTube blocked access citing court orders, even as the the government served legal notice to the BBC after it ignored a court’s restraining order and aired the documentary two days ahead of schedule.

Screenshot of the channel from YouTube.

Screenshot of the channel from YouTube.

“They were supposed to take final approval from the Tihar jail authorities on the interview of the convicts but they did not do so, and according to the contract signed with the BBC, they were barred to use the documentary for commercial purpose, which they have violated too,” the official told IANS.

The government has said that the film is a global conspiracy to defame India.

Meanwhile Leslee Udwin’s, the director of ‘Storyville: India’s Daughter’ accused the Indian government of trying to ban free speech.

“This is the greatest fight of our times and I wanted to applaud the reaction of the Indian people to the crime with this film. But that has been turned around by this ban, which is an attempt to muzzle free speech,” Udwin.

“I have constantly stressed this is not an Indian problem, it is a global problem. I remain confident that this film will be a powerful tool for change,” she added.

While activists have criticised the film saying that it could harm the legal process in India as Delhi gangrape convict Mukesh Singh and his co-accused still have appeals for their death sentences pending in the Supreme Court, they too have said that a ban is not the solution, but rather delaying the telecast makes more sense.

The debate over the film has polarised many, with some saying the film is a must-see. However NDTV‘s protest against the ban earned it praise on Twitter from many prominent personalities. Some of the reactions are below:

Of course the NDTV protest also resulted in many taking pot-shots at Times Now and its editor-in chief Arnab Goswami.

But perhaps the most bizarre was the conspiracy reaction, with some alleging that this was just NDTV trying to get into everyone’s good-books.

Irrespective of the jokes on Twitter, in the age of 24/7 TV, when TRPs are considered sacred, this was definitely a bold move from NDTV.

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NDTV protests ban on India’s Daughter, praised for going blank for an hour