TV withdraws from regulatory body
New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) India TV news channel Friday withdrew
from the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), to protest the
self-regulatory body's decision to slap a fine of Rs.100,000
on the channel for allegedly airing a fake interview with
a US-based analyst of Pakistani origin.
India TV also protested the "partisan functioning of
the NBA" and blamed it's decision on the alleged machinations
of the rival India Today group. G. Krishnan, CEO of TV Today
network, is president of the NBA.
The NBA, comprising leading broadcasters and social activists,
is headed by former Supreme Court Chief Justice J.S. Verma.
"We are compelled to notify our withdrawal from the membership
of the NBA. This communication may also be kindly treated
as a notice for withdrawal from the membership of the NBA
with immediate effect," said a letter by India TV to
the NBA's president.
In its first order, the NBA slapped a Rs.1-lakh fine on India
TV for violating the "principles of self-regulation and
specific guidelines" in handling the story based allegedly
on an interview with Farhana Ali, a US-based writer, lecturer
and policy analyst.
The NBA Standards Dispute Redressal Authority ordered that
India TV pay the fine within a month and run an apology as
a ticker on any one day between 8 pm and 9 pm, five times
with a space of 12 minutes each, stating that Farhana's story
was a "misrepresentation of facts".
In another letter to News Broadcasting Standards Disputes
Redressal Authority, India TV has contended that Farhana Ali
has already "accepted and appreciated" an on-air
apology run by the channel.
"In fact, as a measure of her satisfaction with our sincerity,
the complainant has gone on to voluntarily offer a live appearance
on issues of her expertise," the letter said.
Maintaining that the channel had followed "due diligence"
in addressing Ali's grievances, India TV also argued that
the NBA had not taken into consideration Farhana's letter
before passing the order on April 6.
Earlier, the channel had asked the NBA authority to grant
it a "personal hearing" at its next meeting and
consider Ali's letter.
Accusing the NBA secretariat of "concealment" and
sins of commission and omission, India TV alleged that the
secretariat, under the presidentship of the channel head of
TV Today group, has "virtually become the personal fiefdom
or a personal office of the TV Today Group."
Contending that here was complete absence of objectivity or
fairness in the functioning of the NBA secretariat in assisting
the redressal authority, the channel said: "It seems
that the NBA Secretariat works overtime in indulging itself
in such acts of omission and commission whereby on the one
hand the most relevant documents and facts were not placed
before the Hon'ble Redressal Authority and on the other hand
we stood deprived of our invaluable right of personal hearing
and representation through counsel before the Hon'ble Authority,
in violation of the mandatory regulations in this regard."
Ali had alleged that India TV had misused an interview she
had given to Reuters news agency, by "deceptively dubbing"
it in Hindi, a language she does not know or speak. She charged
that this act was "factually incorrect, unethical and
unjustified", a statement issued by the NBA said. The
channel had run the said interview as part of its coverage
of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
India TV, however, maintains that it telecast the wire copy
in a short two-minute story after midnight as what she said
was important enough to be carried in the context of the Mumbai
attacks. In the interview, Ali had said that there were more
terrorists involved in the Mumbai mayhem. India TV, however,
admitted that Ali's utterances were para-dubbed in Hindi.
Ali asked India TV why had it telecast her views and protested
against her description as a CIA spy. She asserted that she
actually worked for the agency in a different capacity. India
TV maintains this complaint was addressed and a correction
was aired. The complaint was also voluntarily shared with
the NBA Authority, sources in India TV said.
The NBA authority was formed by news broadcasters in October
2008, in the wake of concerns over media reporting of the
Mumbai attacks, to create a self-regulatory mechanism and
prevent any government intervention to control the electronic
media in the form of a proposed Broadcasting Bill and Content
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