NEW DELHI: The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has expressed shock at what it described as ‘the unverified and objectionable’ allegations being made by Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal and his associates against news television channels. The leaders of AAP have been alleging that news channels have been “paid” by rival political parties to drive their agenda in the run up to the general elections.
NBA has reminded Kejriwal and his associates that the electronic media is independent and is discharging its responsibilities in a fair, transparent and balanced manner and urged AAP not to hurl unsubstantiated and unverified charges at the electronic media.
NBA requested Arvind Kejriwal, the convener of AAP, to immediately refrain from making such preposterous allegations failing which NBA members would be forced to reconsider coverage of the activities of the Aam Aadmi Party.
The Ethics Council of the Delhi Union of Journalists also condemned both repeated vile sniping against select media channels and the equally venomous threats to select media by the AAP.
It said the DUJ is deeply concerned at the falling standards of objectivity in media coverage of the current elections by some TV channels, working on the assumption that they are key players in deciding who will rule the country.
Sensationalism and hype are very evident these days in election reporting, particularly in coverage by television channels and other electronic media. Attempts to influence and manipulate the media through various means are also in evidence.
The DUJ said: “As journalists, we cannot condone the AAP Party’s strong language against the media in various papers on 15 March but we also recognise that the media itself loses credibility if it carries paid news and biased views. Hence we demand an impartial inquiry by the Election Commission into the allegations made into the election coverage so far.”
The Press Council too must objectively examine the election coverage to detect any irregularities rather than just issue guidelines which these days are not followed.
The DUJ further demanded that the Election Commission conduct an impartial inquiry into the ostensibly objective election polls being flashed by various media. The allegations of manipulation of poll results on behalf of various political parties need to be addressed.
The DUJ added that the economic crisis has made the media, particularly the electronic media, vulnerable to influence from big advertisers. It is well known that the election propaganda budgets of the two main political parties are enormous and that much of this money is being fuelled into the media, whether in the form of advertising or otherwise. Some other parties also have substantial budgets for media campaigns. The spate of government advertising over the past months has been clearly aimed at influencing the voting patterns in favour of the ruling party. The increasing ownership of media by powerful corporate houses is also adversely influencing the media’s objectivity.
DUJ president Sujata Madhok and General Secretary S K Pande said: “We uphold the right of all journalists to report news and views freely and fearlessly. We call for greater vigilance within the media to ensure that the highest standards of professionalism prevail.”