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HOW WOULD “FIGHTERS FOR FREE MEDIA” REACT TO REPUBLIC TV EPISODE IN INDIA?

By N. S. Venkataraman

Many people would have been surprised and shocked to hear the Mumbai Police Commissioner calling the media and telling that Republic TV has falsified the TRP rating. Given the various problems Mumbai is facing now in addition to the ongoing COVID 19 crisis, is this matter so important for the Mumbai police commissioner to make an announcement about this “trivial issue”, spending his valuable time?

Many in the would know that the TRP ratings are made on the basis of sample surveyS and there are many occasions in the past , when the results of the TRP survey have been criticized by one media or the other. It is a sample survey and sample surveys could always be of doubtful conclusion. It is like a pre poll survey, which different agencies do and provide different conclusions, with no one knowing which is reliable and how much is reliable.

Is there any case in the past where an agency made a poll survey or TRP rating survey accused of falsifying data ? Who can prove this?

In the past, we have always seen the journalists protesting against ANY case filed against a fellow journalist or arrest of a journalist calling it as an act of oppression or vendetta by the government and stating that it amounts to restricting the media’s freedom.

However, when the Mumbai Police Commissioner targeted Republic TV, several other TV channels reported the news gleefully and used various titles such as TRP scandal by Republic TV etc.etc.

It is well known that most of the media houses in India are owned or backed by politicians or business houses or religious bodies or activist groups. Many are suspected to have motivated views on several matters.

There is bitter competition between the media houses to increase their TRP ratings and thus trying to get more advertisements to increase their income. Republic TV episode indicates that journalists are divided and are less concerned about the media freedom or about the solidarity amongst the journalists but more concerned about fixing the “competitors”.

The editor of Republic TV has reacted to this issue very strongly and has accused the Mumbai police commissioner and the government under which he is serving. One would not know how the “injured” police commissioner and the politicians in power in Maharashtra state would react to the outburst of the editor of Republic T V. Of course, the police commissioner and the politicians acting against Republic T V will have the support of the section of media.

The question is whether the police commissioner has called the editor of Republic TV for an enquiry to ascertain the facts and to give him an opportunity to explain his case. It appears that the police commissioner has not done this but has rushed to the media to convey about his”discovery”. Certainly, the police commissioner has not covered himself with glory. The police officers belonging to All India Services must have a more balanced and fair approach with regard to various issues and they should not only be fair but also appear to be fair in the discharge of their duty. By accusing a particular agency before hearing the views of the agency can be considered as an attempt to damage the reputation of an individual or institution. It is the job of the judiciary to give the final verdict.

One would not know whether the editor of Republic TV would be arrested now for accusing a “government servant” or would he get an anticipatory bail from the court.

In any case, the Republic TV episode is a new low in the stature of media houses in India, where it appears that everyone is against everyone else. The credibility of the media has taken a beating.

Next, would the fighters for media freedom support Republic TV? If they would not, then they would stand suspected of having a divisive strategy of supporting one media house at a certain time and not supporting another media at another time.

People stand confused, suspecting media houses, police administration, politicians in the government, all of whom seem to be keen about settling scores rather than doing their duty in an ethical and fair manner for the betterment of the country.

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

Published Date: Friday, October 9th, 2020 | 01:43 AM

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