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NBSA threatens to shut down Republic TV if Arnab Goswami doesn’t apologise for calling Jignesh Mevani’s goon a ‘goon’ for misbehaving with journalist

Recently, Arnab Goswami had bought back the minority shares from Rajeev Chandrasekhar backed Asianet and turned Republic TV into a debt-free media network. Not only that, Republic TV had declared valuation of Rs 12,000 crores as it turned two.

On 9th January 2018, Republic TV reporter, Shivani Gupta. She was heckled, harassed, humiliated with lewd gestures, to a point where she had to be escorted out of Jignesh Mevani’s ‘hunkar rally’ under police protection. It was on video.

Over the course of the reportage, Republic TV circled the face of the man who harassed Shivani and called him a goon. A sexist. A spineless man. The NBSA, in all its wisdom, decided that the issue wasn’t that the reporter was harassed. In fact, in spite of being given a CD that captured the horror, the NBSA decided that they couldn’t conclusively tell if Shivani was harassed.

The NBSA listed broadcasting rules of impartiality and objectivity. And in all its wisdom, observed that on 7.9.2018, Republic must, on full screen, run this apology:

“On the debate “Jignesh Flop Show” aired on Republic TV on 9.1.2018 at 9 PM, the channel had inadvertantly circled the visual of Mr A Singh, while running the pictures of its News Editor Ms Shivani Gupta being confronted by individuals present at the Jignesh Mevani Rally. It was a genuine error, an oversight by our video editor, and not intentional. Therefore, we wish to convey our regret for the error which we reiterate was unintentional”.

They went a step further. The NBSA observed that if Republic TV fails to display this message on the 7th, they will have to display another message on the 14th which was much longer.

Arnab Goswami had then filed a review petition with the NBSA asking them to reconsider their decision. Goswami in his representation had said that it is wrong of the NBSA to sidestep the real issue of a woman and a journalist being molested but rather, run a smear campaign against her.

The NBSA then reviewed Arnab’s petition and asserted that an adequate representation for review had not been made and that generally, when NBSA rejects a petition, they are not bound to give any reason. However, in this case, they say they decided to communicate their reasons to the broadcaster, in this case, Republic TV. Mentioning the reasons, the NBSA simple reiterated that Republic TV has to telecast the apology in full vide order dated 30th August 2018. Arnab Goswami stood firm and refused to air the apology both on 14th and 21st December 2018 as directed by the NBSA.

The NBSA was relentless. In a letter dated 21st February 2019, NBSA reiterated that they were ‘concerned’ about Republic TV not adhering to the order of NBSA. Sprouting the same drivel, the NBSA said that the channel should not view its order as an adversarial process but one to ensure neutrality and fair play.

The reiterated that Republic TV must apologise to the lackey of Jignesh Mevani who had, on camera, hounded the lady reporter Shivani Gupta. In fact, following that, the board of NBA said that if Arnab Goswami is not ready to apologise, a meeting of the board members must be convened and Arnab Goswami must be summoned so he can be convinced to apologise and adhere to the order.

Accordingly, as per the letter that has not been sent by the NBSA to Republic TV and Arnab Goswami whose details are with OpIndia, a letter was sent to Goswami to be present for a meeting on 15th March 2019. Arnab informed the board that due to personal reasons, he could not be available for the meeting but he could send his representatives (CEO, Executive Editor and Legal Advisor). The board declined and wanted Arnab Goswami to be present personally. After all, this endeavour had turned into practice to pull Arnab Goswami down and that was evident from the start.

In their latest letter dated May 8th 2019, according to our sources within the NBA, the NBSA had now threatened to shut down Republic TV if Arnab Goswami doesn’t agree to run a full-screen apology directed at Jignesh Mevani’s aide who misbehaved with journalist Shivani Gupta during the Hunkar rally.

The NBA Board has, according to our sources, said that the Board after deliberations unanimously decided to recommend to the NBSA to write to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for the suspension and revocation of the license of Republic TV as per the powers vested in the Authority under Regulation 7.1 of the News Broadcasting Standards Regulation. It was also decided that the letter addressed to MoI&B should be circulated to the media.

The letter goes on to say, “The decision taken by the NBA Board on 15.3.2019 was placed before the NBSA at its meeting held on 18.3.2019. NBSA decided to issue a notice to the broadcaster (Republic TV) of its decision before implementing the recommendation of NBA”.

The letter then says, “You are therefore hereby notified about the recommendations of the NBA and the decision of the NBSA”.

In fact, the letter goes on to threaten Arnab Goswami and Republic TV. It says that if the channel fails to comply with the decision of the NBSA within 15 days (telecast apology), NBSA will:

  1. Write to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for suspension/revocation of your Broadcasters License
  2. Circulate the said letter addressed to the MOI&B to the media.

The NBSA then asks Republic TV to inform NBSA about when Republic TV would run the full-screen apology to the man who misbehaved with Shivani Gupta, a journalist with the Republic TV on camera.

It is extremely evident from the tone of the letter that the NBSA and the NBA have decided to threaten and intimidate Arnab Goswami especially with their threat to “circulate the letter to the Media”. It is almost as if the NBSA is threatening Arnab Goswami that if he doesn’t apologise to Jignesh Mevani’s lackey, the might of the Lutyens media that has regularly hounded and abused Arnab Goswami would just get more rabid.

OpIndia reached out to Arnab Goswami for a comment on the recent developments.

Arnab Goswami said:

“I haven’t received any such letter yet. But the Lutyens media must know that I will never apologise to a goon. Even if he has the Congress party backing or the backing of the Lutyens media. I will be horrified if anyone expects editors to apologise to lumpens who harass a journalist. No one in their right mind would expect an apology. In fact, I will exercise my fundamental rights and legal rights to fight this tooth and nail.”

When the NBSA had issued it’s first order to Republic TV to apologise, OpIndia had reported how a certain lady from NDTV, during the committee hearing went so far as to tell Shivani that ‘these things happen in the field’. Shivani was made to come face to face with her harasser. Shivani was made to sit through a humiliating experience while the man who allegedly incited people to harass her sat and justified, and even denied what he had done.

Now, the NBSA seems to be almost taking out a personal vendetta against Arnab Goswami. Recently, Arnab Goswami had bought back the minority shares from Rajeev Chandrasekhar backed Asianet and turned Republic TV into a debt-free media network. Not only that, Republic TV had declared valuation of Rs 1,200 crores as it turned two. One has to wonder if this is the manner in which the Lutyens Media plans to hit back at Arnab Goswami and bring the media disruptor to his knees. Whatever the plans and intent behind this gross miscarriage of justice might be, Arnab Goswami has told that he stands firm and will fight this order tooth and nail.

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