Ban on Live Telecasting by News Channels is essential to save Democracy

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

This post may be an irritant to so-called supporters of democracy to whom free press includes “live” telecast of anything called “news” is a fundamental right. But, unless news channels are completely banned, whatever little semblances of democracy is yet discernible in India could be totally obliterated, as plutocracy would engulf this confused country in its entirety by using the TV news channels.

We have witnessed the TV channels’ overwhelming impact on voters’ free-thinking process in the LokSabha election – 2014, and we saw the same impact, when people indulged in mob violence instigated by TV Channels in August 2015 in matter of Sarathi baba to Sura baba in Orissa to child mortality in Shishu Bavan at Cuttack.

Let me first cite the event that has embarrassed Satish Gajviye IPS with extending suspension. He has been suspended from service for the very same reason for which he should have been rewarded, had the motivated TV channels not tried to cover up their own mischief and the political government not succumbed to overwhelming media power of the said TV channels. The following links would clear the position.

In Kendrapada Context Satish Gajbhiye deserves praise, not punishment

Orissa Police in its entirety should stand with Satish Gajbhiye

Now, the political mischief.

Whosoever has watched 2014 has certainly seen that powerful news channels had made the elections a battle between Mr. Narendra Modi and the rest against whom he was leading his campaign. Even Advani of BJP was stripped off his charisma by the news channels so as to eliminate every possible claimant to the top post, if the tricks clicked.

During electioneering there was no trace of BJP. It was only Modi.

Modi was not projecting BJP; but was projecting only himself.

The TV channels – projecting themselves as national channels – did everything to denigrate the Congress and other parties on whose defeat Modi was to grab the top post.

And, he grabbed the Prime Minister chair even though people had not elected BJP. People had elected whomsoever Modi had planted as his candidate under the banner of BJP only.
This was strategically done, as Modi and whose interest he was to serve, had known one thing very clearly: Vajpayee had so corrupted the administration that people of India had gone averse to BJP. Therefore, only Modi, not BJP, was to be center of TV media propaganda.

How had Vajpayee come to be viewed as such? We may recall just two sample instances of how he had given a very irritating, corrupt and immoral administration, for which people had grown averse to him and refused him / BJP a fresh mandate:

Pramod Mahajan
Son of a poor low-paid school teacher, Pramod Mahajan was a Rajyasabha member and a highly controversial minister under Vajpayee for a very small time. But he was able to accumulate more than 2000 crores of rupees before succumbing to bullets of his own brother in a feud over sharing that money. His son had told on records to Delhi Police during investigation into his drug links that he was in the habit of spending Rs.60,000/- to Rs.70,000/- per day in enjoyment.

George Fernandez
The second instance is one, which Vajpayee himself has never explained, though, he should certainly have, had there been an iota of probity in him.

He had dropped George Fernandez from defense minister post after exposure of his crimes against the country in context of Kargil war. But, no sooner than that, he re-inducted and retained the same Fernandez as defense minister in total and mysterious disregard to entire opposition boycotting him in Parliament till the last moment. Vajpayee had clearly succumbed to blackmailing of Fernandez, as he changed his way of action after followers of Fernandez threatened to expose him. With Fernandez taken care of, the secrecy, which his supporters had threatened to expose, could not come out; but the people had decided how to teach BJP a lesson in the elections.

Vajpayee had tried to hoodwink the people through TV news channels, watching which, I had to raise the first voice against media mischief in my article captioned FREE PRESS? THINK AFRESH.

Modi era
Modi and his patrons knew it well and hence votes were besought in the name of only Modi, not in the name of BJP.
To many Indians, except the supporters of the rule by the rich, the last two years in Modi’s hand are no better than the blatant misrule Mr. Manmohan Singh had given.

When he addressed the people at Balasore of Orissa on the 2nd of June, people heard a parochial politician, not a Prime Minister in him. The PM personifies the mana and magnanimity of an entire nation, not a leader of a political party. He failed to adhere to this very soft thread of center-state relationship in context of a different political party than his own ruling the State.

Journalistic Wisdom in doldrums
Had his speech been reported only in print media, journalistic wisdom might have thought it prudent not to publish the political rivalry part of what he said. But, that was not possible in live delivery by TV channels.
Live delivery of what we call news by TV channels are news sans journalistic wisdom applied to them and hence, most harmful to health of democracy, particularly when political personalities are involved.

Mediacracy is going to lord over whatever little semblance of democracy we have as yet. To save our democracy, thinking minds should seriously cogitate on whether it is desirable to allow live telecasting of news of public interest, and of political significance.

Press freedom must not be a brainwashing medium.
Let us start thinking on it.

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