The Press Council of India (PCI) has issued a show-cause notice to Dainik Bhaskar for publishing fake interview of Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
In a statement [pdf] issued on Tuesday, the PCI said that the Chairman has taken suo-motu cognizance of the matter and ordered to issue show cause notice to the media house.
On March 8, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, Dainik Baskar’s digital arm DB Post published an interview with Sanna Marin, the prime minister of Finland. The interviewer had claimed to have met Marin in Helsinki. But later it had emerged that no such interview had taken place, and the entire interview was fabricated.
The ‘interview’ comprised of 15 questions that the Finnish PM had ‘answered’, which was labelled as exclusive by Bhaskar. The publication had claimed that the interviewer had gone to Finland and met Sanna Marin for an exclusive chat. According to it, Marin had described India as having great potential, apart from giving detailed answers.
The interview, published on the website of DB Post, was spotted by Finnish prime minister’s office on Sunday, March 8 itself, according to a report by Finnish media house Journalisti. Päivi Anttikoski, Communications Director of Finland government said that she is amazed that a major Indian media house published an interview that never took place. “We would have known if anyone in Helsinki had interviewed the Prime Minister”, she said, affirming that the interview is fake.
Following the discovery of the fake interview, the Finnish govt launched an operation to seek answers from India, including through the Indian Embassy in Helsinki. They were informed that the interview was handed over to Dainik Bhaskar by a freelance journalist, including notes on Finnish government letterhead. Anttikoski asserts that the letterheads were also fake, and they were not from the Finnish govt’s office.
While going through the answers given by Sanna Marin in the fake interview, it was later determined that the text was lifted from an earlier interview of the Finnish PM given to German TV channel ZDF. The transcript of a portion of the TV interview was published on the ZDF website on February 19th, and it appears that Bhaskar repackaged it and presented it to DBPost as his exclusive interview of Marin. The media house too failed to check the authenticity of the interview and published it on its website.