It is really very disturbing and disconcerting that an irresponsible, hate-mongering and anti-people TV channel can do whatever they want and go scot free without having to answer any statutory body in the country. India does need a central authority to turn to when the citizens’ and journalists’ rights are trampled upon by any of the news channels, non-news channels, radio stations and other media outfits in the country.
The abhorrent, abrasive and abusive Arnab Goswami, his now estranged cohort, Shwetha Kothari, and their Chennai reporter Sanjeev telecasted a so-called “sting operation” on me at 2 pm on June 20, 2017 in their Republic TV and alleged that our struggle against the Koodankulm nuclear power project was funded by the Catholic Church with foreign donations. I took part in the very same panel discussion on Republic TV and pooh-poohed the accusation.
As I was taking part in their discussion from Kumbakonam town (in Tamil Nadu) where I was attending an agitation, Republic TV reporter Sanjeev and three other men were harassing my parents aged 85 and 82 respectively, my wife and school-going son at my home in Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu. Even after my family told him that I was out of town, they were loitering about my house for hours together, talking to people and shopkeepers around my home and defaming me and my family.
Arnab Goswami and another anchor of Republic TV, were talking non-stop about me and defaming me on their TV channel for three days. All this caused me and my family so much mental agony and suffering. This kind of vindictive and vituperative attitude and behaviour of Arnab Goswami and his team is unacceptable in a decent democratic society. As a result of Arnab Goswami’s slanderous campaign against me, my family and I still fear for our safety and security.
When I complained to the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Mr. Ashish Sinha, the Secretary General, wrote to me on June 23, 2017 that the BCCC had been constituted to address only complaints relating to the content of programmes aired on IBF member Non-News Channels. And therefore, he regretted that the BCCC was not able to consider my complaint.
I complained to the Press Council of India but Mr. S. K. Maggon, Under Secretary, forwarded my letter to the News Broadcasters Association on July 13, 2017. I also complained to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) as it was the body that looked into the content of news channels.
Incidentally, Ms. Annie Joseph of NBSA wrote to me on June 28, 2017 that the Republic TV was not a member of NBA and hence they could not take action on my complaint. She asked me to write to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and also forwarded my complaint to the Joint Secretary (BC II) of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on July 21, 2017.
I too sent my complaint to the Joint Secretary (Broadcasting) along with a copy to the Director of the Ministry of I&B on June 30, 2017. However, I have not received even an acknowledgement from the Ministry of I&B officials until today.
It is indeed a strange fact that there is no appropriate central agency in India that oversees all the various broadcasters, telecasters and other online and offline media outfits that violate the ordinary Indian citizens’ and journalists’ rights, privileges, dignity and safety.