Republic TV and Arnab Goswami are now getting some payback for their aggressive support for the government and biased, often distorted, attacks on its opponents. First, Rahul Gandhi barred both Republic TV and its clone, Times Now, from Congress party press conferences, Shashi Tharoor refuses to speak to anyone from Republic TV—one of their reporters in Kerala resigned after being told to harass Tharoor at an event he was hosting in his constituency—and now a huge media controversy has broken out over youth leader Jignesh Mewani asking for a Republic TV reporter to be removed from his press conference in Chennai. Mewani first objected to the Republic reporter being there, then allowed him to stay on condition that he would not be allowed to ask any questions. At which point another TV reporter—for Times Now, not surprisingly, stood up and proclaimed: “We don’t want this press conference.” So Mewani walked out, followed by the journos. Social media has since erupted with those in favour of the boycott and others questioning why Republic and Times Now should get support from independent media.
Baby’s Day Out
The country has just had its Nirbhaya moment—the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl, Zainab Amin. Her corpse was found on a garbage heap in Kasur, a town near Lahore.
The brutal act led to an unprecedented eruption of shock, grief and rage across Pakistan with politicians, the army chief and celebrities all getting involved. One TV news anchor started her report on the atrocity with a unique prop—she had her seven-year-daughter sitting in her lap. The anchor, Kiran Naz, said she was trying to highlight what she felt as a mother in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Good point, as long as it doesn’t give our anchors some ideas to misuse symbolisms for frivolous purposes.
The BJP government and its internet troll brigades mounted a veritable media blitzkrieg to influence the outcome of the constitutional validity of the universal Aadhaar card scheme on the eve of its coming up for challenge before a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court, last week. Leading the charge was none other than former Infosys top honcho Nandan Nilekani, first head of UIDAI and a vociferous champion of the mission. He alleged that there was an “orchestrated campaign to malign” the scheme. He said this in response to an investigative report in The Tribune revealing that private data on citizens could be purchased by paying Rs 500. In fact, on the day of the Supreme Court hearing, Nilekani bylined pro-Aadhaar articles for national dailies The Times of India and Hindustan Times, which carried no opposing points of view. The government’s IT-savvy media influencers even developed a hashtag #AdhaarMythBuster under which BJP ministers and stalwarts like Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Rajyavardhan Rathore, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Dr Mahesh Sharma and Maneka Gandhi furiously re-tweeted the never ending benefits and “safety” of Aadhaar. It was reminiscent of the media war waged by the BJP under the hashtag #DemonetisationSuccess in defence of Namo’s Demo scheme.
Hathway versus Times
Subscribers to Hathway have been deprived of all Times Now channels for a fortnight now. There is an ongoing scrap between Hathway and Times Network over carriage fees, and the former has now blocked all seven channels of the Times Network— Movies Now, Romedy Now, Times Now, ET Now, Mirror Now, MNX and Zoom.
There is no question as to who is the ultimate lo-ser—Hathway has a 10-million subscriber base, mostly in Mumbai, where Times Network is headquartered.
The network has asked all its employees with a Hathway connection to file complaints with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
After all, when two elephants fight, a lot of grass gets trampled upon.