Intimidation by NDTV

The blogosphere practically exploded today with protests against NDTV’s silencing of a blogger’s criticism of Barkha Dutt’s coverage of the Mumbai attacks. Before I link to everybody else who has written on this, I would like to  point you to the Google cache of the original post that was later deleted by Kunte. That’s not enough.

We all need to write about just why NDTV’s actions are reprehensible. They probably threatened to sue the poor blogger for libel. But, for what? For quoting a Wikipedia entry that criticises Barkha Dutt’s handling of the Kargil War? Or for commenting on what all of us saw on television for more than three days? Many other bloggers have made the point much better than I can. Trailblazer, Gaurav Sabnis, Shripriya, Rohit, and Prem Panicker have made the point several times over.

But, I have one question for Barkha Dutt and Co. They were justified in feeling insulted that one blogger, sitting at home and watching television criticised them. They chose to sue. The allegations against them were, in their opinion baseless and libellous. So, they agree that people are free to sue for libel. Right? In that case, would they tender an unconditional apology to the Talwars for slandering them after the murder of their 14-year old daughter? Would they retract all the speculations they made on national television of the sordid details of Dr. Rajesh Talwar’s adulterous relationship with his colleague? Would they offer to bring back the time the family lost in mourning their daughter? Can they do it? Ever?

Would they apologise to the Unnikrishnans for airing the news of their son’s death even before it was communicated officially to the family, thus shocking them into learning of such a tragic news through a flash running at the bottom of their television screens? Would they apologise for shoving mics, rather insensitively, into the face of the worried husband of a trapped guest at the Oberoi, and asking him how he felt? I guess not. Because they call it freedom of speech. So, according to them, freedom of speech is only for multi-million dollar businesses that are nothing better than money-making ventures. It does not apply to individual people like Cheytanya Kunte who was bullied into withdrawing his post and apologising for citing a Wikipedia entry. Right?

Wrong. Because we live in a democracy. Because we are free to express whatever opinion we want. Because NDTV, like all other news channels, is in a business that leaves them vulnerable to criticism. Because Kunte’s post does not, and never did, fall into the category of libel. And because, as a blogger, as a human being, and as a citizen of India, I genuinely believe in the freedom of expression. Also because, the freedom of expression must apply to everyone, irrespective of money, race, sex, caste, creed or identity. Today, NDTV has silenced one blogger. Let’s see how many other bloggers they can silence. Let’s see how successful Ms. Dutt and her friends are at silencing its critics. If we are true to ourselves, our voices will be heard, whether NDTV wants it to be heard or not.

14 thoughts on “Intimidation by NDTV

  1. Trailblazer says:

    Brilliant, Amrutha. So true about the follies of the media.

    I’ve never seen them rendering an apology for their acts in the Aarushi Talwaar case, which are way more heinous than Mr. Kunte’s. What a shameful attempt to silence a blogger. I can’t imagine what would be going through Mr. Kunte’s mind. All I can say is ALL bloggers should stand by him. Even Barkha Dutt fans.

    What is even more sad is that such behaviour of these journalists will never be exposed in the mainstream media and hence will never reach the masses.

    The mainstream media is getting less and less worthy of emulation. By giving in to unnecessary sensationalism and unpardonable hysteria, they have lost my respect totally.

  2. Lateef says:

    I think we agree that it’s a shame they bullied Kunte…a kind and well-intended (according to his blog) family guy.

    Also…The bloggers were the FIRST to report (and tweet) the Mumbai attacks…because they don’t have to follow the rules and regulations of a corporate media CEO they were able to get the news out fast.

    Thanks for the post Amrutha – this is the easiest one to read on the topic, well-written.

    Thanks Lateef. And welcome to my blog.

  3. kiranP says:

    Real Talibans of India – Media

    When a female journalist called Soumya Vishwanathan was killed in India’a national capital, the Chief Minister of Delhi Smt Sheila Dixit blamed the dead female journalist for her own tragedy by saying that she was too adventurous. The Media wholeheartedly supported Mrs Dixit and went gaga over her shortly afterwards, when she won the Delhi Assembly elections.

    When Scarlett Keeling was raped and killed in Goa and the needle of suspicion pointed to a strong nexus between the Goan Ministers, the drug mafia and the sex racketeers, the media played it very safe by conveniently choosing not to pursue the leads from the investigation.

    When a 14-year-old German girl was raped by Rohit Monserrate, the 21-year-old son of Goa Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate who is also a powerful political figure in Goa, and the girl’s mother was repeatedly harassed and their lawyer was grievously injured in order to coerce him to withdraw from the case, the Media didn’t find anything extraordinary in that.

    When Taslima Nasreen’s press conference was rudely disrupted and chairs and all sorts of dangerous objects were thrown at her in full glare of the cameras by the “secular” muslim jihadis of Hyderabad lead by the MLAs of Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), the Media didnt at all find anything amiss in that.

    When Laxmi Oraon, an Adivasi woman was brutally thrashed and paraded naked through the streets of Guwahati, Assam, with the whole police paraphernalia and official state machinery in tow, the Media chose to downplay the episode since, the victim was a hapless adivasi woman from the lower strata of society.

    The Media felt that since all the above unsavoury incidents had occured in the states lead by Madam Sonia Antonia Maino’s puppets, it is all perfectly legitimate and absolutely secular and progressive.

    Kudos to the Media who are the Real Talibans of India.
    http://www.haindavakeralam.com/HKPage.aspx?PageID=8098&SKIN=B

    I wouldn’t go that far. But yes, the point you make about the Keeling murder and the German girl’s rape is completely valid.

  4. The Furobiker says:

    Good that you came out in support of the blogger. And yeah.. how many bloggers can NDTV silence?

    If someday some blogger wanna go on a rampage against barkha dutt or anyone from the mainstream media, he/she can create a million blogs on wordpress and blogger and almost half of the india would have read about it before the can go and stop that!

  5. roop says:

    what a shame, amrutha.

    sorry, i’ve been out of loop for a while. a lot of things went on since october. good to be back here. and this is just a sad piece of news. terrible. what is india coming to!

  6. Dr Roshan says:

    awesome post.. really, a class apart. whats been going on is quite horrific.. and everyone just beiing mute about it.. good to see such brave comments on the blogosphere

  7. SHOBHIT PANT says:

    Shameful, sham, hypocrisy, media Mafiadom by channel group that self appointed itself as India’s only ‘organised, professionally orchestrated electronic news channel ‘ that can be equated with America’s CNN, BBC, FOX, SKY and what have you.
    Come to think of it..and if you take a macro level look, this is no sporadic case of corporate bullying . Its a first ever symbolic case of one media trying to suppress and challenge the firepower and impact of the other. It’s just not burkha dutt / NDTV vs CHETANYA KUNTE. Take A broader look guys . Its much more than what it appears to be.It’s a first ever media war trying to prove respective mights between electronic elevision Baed news media vs, the neo natal Internet ..to be specific The blog media or the might of the bloggers. Television channels have relized or will soon realize the tremendous fire power and capabilities of organised bloggers who can break the syndicate and monopoly of news channels. What this actually means is all thats shoved ino us by Television channels can now easily be chalenged with more facts and open ended views of countless bloggers , who can chain react a massive public awareness drive giving the top ended readers the other sides of the story.
    Lets leave Burkha or no Burkha suue. Lets look at this issue fromm a 360 degree. i think its the first ever reported case of two channels fighting it out . Interesting.
    At the same time , I personally condemn the irresponsible gesture adopted by no one else but NDTV. supposedly a mature News Channel of the country. As For Burkha, I personally hold her amongst the top nes media professionals of India. What baffles me is NDTV AND Burkha’s decision of going legal after a Harmless individual. Had it been a corporate group or an entity of a considerable size, it could have been still understandable. By sueing chetanya, NDTV Has so daftly demonstrated their myopic vision and insecurity. Without a doubt Burkha has covered some unprecedented missions and with brilliance. This includes 26 x 11.
    sad ! the entire sanctity of a serious channel like NDTV got washed for an avoidable issue that could easily have been ignored and passed of as insignificatnt by ndtv. what surprises me more is the insecurity of such a gigantic and well established channel who’s led by no other icons on indian media than Dr. Pranoy Roy. The bhishma Pitamaha of Indian electronic media. But Like i said. all this should not be seen with myopic vision. its not about barkha vs chetanya. Its the outbreak / begioning of two mighty media of the democratic turf of India . Dr. Roy. are you listening ?

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