“The said Article carries baseless allegations/comments about our channel TIMES NOW and also targets our Editor-in-Chief Mr. Arnab Goswami with comments that are derogatory and disparaging in nature. These comments are written and published with a malicious intent against both TIMES NOW and Mr. Arnab Goswami. Under the garb of providing a platform for freedom of expression, you have permitted the publication of such a highly disparaging article that not only reduces our esteem in the eyes of our viewers but also casts baseless aspersions on our credibility as a news broadcaster and thereby seriously damaging and diluting the goodwill and image we have built over the years......While we are certain that you are fully entitled to write or publish any article on the subject of media and its role, this freedom does not clothe you with the right to publish defamatory, disparaging or demeaning remarks against TIMES NOW or any of its representatives. An organization such as yours, which encourages and invites comments from readers, including journalists, and is believed to have been set up to uphold and provide a platform for free expression, ought to have been doubly careful whilst publishing any article/remark against a reputable news channel and its editor”.
I didn’t write any of the above. That was written by Times in response to an article published by Nupur Basu on ‘The Hoot’ website. “This freedom does not clothe you with the right to publish defamatory, disparaging or demeaning remarks against TIMES NOW or any of its representatives.” It’s like that? Okay! So TV channels have all the right to make or allow disparaging statements or pictures about individuals but not others. In response, The Hoot pulled the article they had written about Times Now’s gory coverage of the attack on Prashant Bhushan. You can’t read the original article by The Hoot since it’s pulled but you can imagine what they must have written. Talk about getting lucky! TimesNow was doing an interview with Prashant Bhushan when the attack happened and spared no effort to play it over and over again.
Isn’t it amazing that the most self-righteous notes and defences usually come from the media? Almost every single day the media gets someone to mouth rubbish about someone else and then they play the victim. Lately, for every sentence that any politician utters the theme is he or she "Takes on"! Takes on? Every statement is like a wrestling match? Don’t shoot the messenger they tell you. Shoot? I think we should shoot them, kill them and bury them in an unmarked grave. That’s as far as the media has gone. So why is there sympathy for the TOI group when someone throws at it a hundred crore defamation suit?
TimesNow has been slapped with a 100-Crore defamation order by a court. Appeal goes to High Court of Bombay and TOI tries to stall it through the Supreme Court. The SC refuses to stay the proceedings. So the Bombay High Court has ordered TOI to deposit 20Crores and furnish a bank guarantee of 80Crores. The cause for this whole episode is the wrongful inclusion of a picture of Justice P.B. Sawant along with other offenders in the Ghaziabad PF scam. The so called ‘Editors Guild’ is naturally very concerned at the turn of events. Here is what their statement said:
"While recognising that the law of defamation is an important qualification of the fundamental right to freedom of expression, the Guild believes that the law of defamation has to be construed in such a manner that it does not constrain the normal functioning of the media," the Editors Guild said in a statement. It added, "An unintentional error because of a technical mix-up is in a different category from malicious or intentional libel. If inadvertent errors were to be met with punitive fines, it would make it difficult and indeed hazardous for journalists and media organisations to carry out their professional duties."
Unintentional error? Alright! And then what exactly are the professional duties of journalists and media organisations. They have the absolute right to peddle nonsense and lies about people and issues and when their ass gets kicked they talk about professional duties. This very TOI once sued a blogger called ‘Mediaah’ and forced it to shut up just because it carried satirical notes about the organisation. This very TOI has even carried silly fake articles about Aishwarya Rai being on a Jerry Springer show on its readers. As for Arnab Goswami…how can the man be possibly defamed? He defames himself every night on TV with his unwarranted kicking and screaming. And yet The Hoot has to shut up because it offends the TOI group. Who can forget the recent episode of misuse of an interview of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar by Sagarika Ghose on CNN-IBN? And they conveniently call it LookLive or SIMSAT and that all channels do it. Pay the price for it!
Does the name Uma Khurana ring a bell? Live India news channel ran a story on her in 2007. “The undercover operation, aired Aug 30, showed Uma Khurana, a mathematics teacher at Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in central Delhi, running a prostitution racket involving students. Immediately after the channel aired the video footage of the sting, 41-year-old Khurana was arrested on charges of immoral trafficking, was badly abused and assaulted by a mob, and later was dismissed from the government service. A week later, the sting was found to be a hoax as the woman shown as a student and a prostitution racket victim turned out to be an aspiring journalist. The channel's reporter Prakash Singh, who carried out the operation, was also arrested Sep 8 last year. A trial court later absolved Khurana of all charges. Khurana filed a defamation suit against Live India, holding it responsible for putting her through “mental agony, humiliation and harassment”.
Well, later on Uma Khurana withdrew the defamation case. Maybe there was an out of court settlement and so be it. Since when did the media possess the moral right to defame people and carry absurd stories? Quite recently both TimesNow and CNN-IBN provided a platform to the notorious Sanjiv Bhatt and allowed him to call a Chief Minister a “common criminal”. Sensational stuff, but did they stop to think that the man was actually defaming a person without any reason or rhyme? No! The media derives immense joy and pleasure in airing such statements and bringing on people of dubious characters on their debates. Do they really care about their viewers or readers?
The Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) is concerned against the orders being passed against the TOI group. Even some stray jerks like Foundation for Media Professionals is concerned and they issued a statement: "If defamation is presumed even in mistakes honestly made without malicious intent the news media will be crippled with fear..” Why not? The rogues in the media must be crippled with FEAR! They have so far been fortunate to get away with a lot. It is not so much as genuine mistakes that offend viewers but it’s the general trash and biased coverage of events that offend viewers. Some channels need to shut down. Channels like NDTV and CNN-IBN are fountains of biased and deliberate mischief that need to be served with such suits almost on a daily basis. Hiding behind such spurious terms as SIMSAT and LookLive is as good as perpetrating a fraud on viewers. Even Justice Markandeya Katju who has rapped the media severely has been sympathetic to the plight of TOI and the 100Crore fine. Have we also forgotten how Barkha Dutt and NDTV tried to browbeat an ordinary blogger? Who or what gives these people the right to constantly molest and outrage the intelligence of the viewers?
Let the hundred crores just be a start. There are no journalists running the TV channels anymore. There are celebrities like Arnab Goswami, Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose and many more who seem to believe they have the divine right to peddle nonsense every night. Justice Sawant may be a prominent individual who has pulled up TimesNow but that will be the day when ordinary viewers start filing cases against the media. A case a day will keep them on their toes. A hundred crores is really not enough!