A day after the News Broadcasters Association opposed the CBI probe in the TRP manipulation case, the association has come up with another statement, this time to apparently express concern about the way Maharashtra government is hounding Republic TV. But even though it appeared to oppose the actions of Mumbai police, it went on to slam the Republic TV for the kind of journalism it practices and asked its journalists to revolt against Arnab Goswami.
The NBA has said that they are deeply concerned that journalists working in the newsroom have become victims of this ‘unfortunate conflict’, but remained silent on the targeted attack by Mumbai Police on Republic News Network.
While NBA said that it stands for freedom of speech and expression of the editorial staff of Republic TV even though the network is not its member and does not subscribe to its Code, it took great pain to not say anything directly against the Maharashtra government and Mumbai Police. Although the NBA tried to do a balancing act by criticising the police action and the Republic, in fact, the entire statement is slamming Republic, with some text thrown in to express concern about journalists and freedom of speech.
In the second para itself, the statement says, “we do not approve of the kind of journalist that is being practised by Republic TV”. Then it adds that while it stands for freedom of speech, it also endorses the practice of ethics in journalism, and fair and balanced reporting, implying that the reporting by Republic is not ethical and fair.
In the entire statement, the NBA sought to make a difference between journalists working in Republic TV and the channel itself, exposing its deep hatred for Arnab Goswami. It appealed Mumbai Police to ‘ensure that no journalists are made victims of this crossfire’. This directly means that they are ok with Mumbai police hounding Republic and its promoter-editor, and they are only concerned about the journalists. They appealed that journalists working with Republic to not cross the Lakshman Rekha, means asking them to revolt against Arnab Goswami.
The NBA states that “it does not support toxic content and unethical journalism”, thereby passing a verdict on Republic TV.
NBA said that the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) formed by it has played an important role in monitoring content of news channels. It mentions how the NBSA had punished and fined channels for unethical reporting on the Sushant Singh Rajput death case, and appealed Republic to follow the codes of ethics of NBSA even though it is not member. But the NBA failed to mention that all the channels punished by NBSA are NBA members. In fact, one of the channels punished is India TV, run by NBA president Rajat Sharma.
The NBA again included its opposition to the CBI probe in the TRP scam case, saying it expresses serious concern about the FIR registered by UP Police and subsequent transfer of the case to CBI. It requested the UP govt to withdraw the FIR referred to CBI. This is a shocking stand by NBA, because by now everyone knows how the Mumbai police is trying to implicate Republic TV and shield NBA member India Today in the TRP case. The complaint and FIR in the case had named India Today, but Mumbai police is taking action against Republic TV, trying to get the witnesses to change their statement. Even in such a scenario, NBA wants Mumbai police to continue the probe and opposes CBI investigation in the case.
This shows that it showing concern about the journalists of Republic TV is just a lip service, and actually it supports the attempt of Mumbai Police to shut down the channel.
It may be noted that Republic TV is a member of the News Broadcasters Federation, a rival organisation of news channels. With around 80 national and regional news channels, NBF is much larger in terms of number of member channels. Arnab Goswami is president of NBF.