Complaint against Praja TV

Date : 21 April 2017

To,

The Legal Co-ordinator,
Praja TV

Samparka Info Media Pvt Ltd

Shezan Lavelle, No. 15, 3rd Floor Walton Road Bangalore Bangalore KA 560001 IN

Dear Madam/Sir,

Sub : Complaint against anti-women, defamatory and hurtful program ‘Lock-up’ telecast on your channel on 17th April , 2017

We are concerned citizens and organisations from the city of Bengaluru who are deeply disturbed by the manner in which your channel has portrayed a gross act of violence against Shobha. We are concerned about the impact that this telecast has on the safety of women across Karnataka and are compelled to file this complaint in public interest. We are also shocked in the manner in which a grieving family has been forced to undergo further hurt and humiliation and a Victim has been defamed, by the telecast of your baseless and salicious programme.

This complaint pertains to a programme titled “Lockup” that was broadcast on your television news channel “Praja” on 17.04.2017 from 8.30pm. In this broadcast you have sensationalized the murder of a Ms. Shobha, misrepresented facts, invaded the privacy of their family, defamed her and caused her family and friends deep grief and anguish.

The following content (tickers and statements) of the programme is deeply objectionable, scandalous and reflects the low standard of reportage.

“She has a double degree and he is a loafer. Why would she marry somebody who is only flirting? 

Getting entangled with a married man. She brought this on herself.

Either she succumbs to my words or to no one – said Girish, and he was prepared.

But she stood on her grounds and told him clearly that she cannot continue her relationship with him. He went away as the neighbors interrupted, and came back a second time. 

Having a double degree, she didn’t go to work instead took tuitions for children at home. She was also making merry with him. If only she had stopped this nonsense, she would not have faced this situation. 

During earlier days it used to be good because as soon as the girl turned 16 and the boy 20 they would get married. But now its all so shameful, that they openly roam around with each other. These days girls dress in pant and shirt and gives them more opportunities to pursue them. If the girls limit themselves then such situations would never have come up. Each day the girls have different partners. In the park, malls they openly display their love.” 

 This is just some snippets of the kind of tickers that were run and statements made during the telecast.

Please note here the specific areas of violations by your news broadcast as enumerated below:

  • You have engaged in a “trial by media” of the victim! Not a word of sympathy for the loss of a life. Not a word about the fact that despite having lost her parents at a tender age, and belonging to the Dalit community facing untouchability and discrimination throughout her life, she struggled hard to become a meritorious student who M.A. and B.Ed.
  • You have intentionally made various assertions and framed opinions on the supposed relationship between the victim, Shobha and Girish, the person who has murdered her.
  • You have intentionally maligned her character without any shred of proof and resorted to wild-flinging allegations and sensationalisation in this regard.
  • You have intruded on the private life and personal affair of the victim with an intention to malign her reputation and create resentment against her, Indeed this has led to her stigmatisation in larger society, and causing severe emotional and mental trauma to the family members as well.
  • Your intrusion of privacy of the victim does not serve any meaningful public interest, nor was it warranted in the public interest, which is understood as per NBA guidelines to be the only reason for breaching an individual’s privacy while gathering news.
  • Your entire episode is without any source and just a concocted script without any attempt whatsoever to approach and report the ghastly murder of my sister in a fair and transparent manner. The very nature of the programme created by you makes it evident that it’s intention all along is to indulge in sensationalist, non-objective, partial, and value-judgmental journalism, in violation of all journalistic standards and ethics.
  • You have failed in the responsibility of self-regulation, and your reportage seeks to justify Shobha’s ghastly murder by a man spurned by her.
  • The contents, tone and tenor of this programme condones the violence committed by men on women, when their approaches are spurned by the women.
  • The entire programme is patriarchal, biased, prejudiced, opinionated and encourages the opinion that women are subservient to men and that women invite violence upon themselves by acts of their freedom and choices. This is discriminatory and violative of the principles of gender equality enshrined in the law of the land.
  • Your programme which glorifies stalking and the violence against women, encourages stalking and would result in further violence against women. This problem of stalking has increased to monumental proportions and it is a serious issue threatening the life and liberty of women today. In such a scenario your programme has put at risk the life and liberty of all women by glorifying the actions of the murderer.
  • Your programme implies that men have a right over any women who they desire, and the views of the women are irrelevant. That is to say that women do not have the right to say “no”. In this manner the programme justifies the murder of Shobha and heaps the blame on her while condoning his actions and seeking sympathy for him.
  • The content, tone and tenor of your programme is that once a woman enters into a relationship with a man, she has no choice to leave and if she does then she deserves the violence that would ensue. This reinforces patriarchal norms that women is owned and to be controlled by men which are antithetical to the notions of equality and liberty enshrined in our Consitution.

Over and above the points of violation and aggravation given above, your news coverage is false and untrue, and is a cowardly attack on a deceased person who cannot defend herself. This is nothing but character assassination.

Please note that the manner in which the progamme is presented in highly objectionable and hardly a news report. Instead it is pure conjecture and the tone, tenor and language is crass, prejudiced and disrespectful. One can only symathise with the grief of the family, not merely due to the murder of Shobha, but also by the broadcast of your slandering programme.

You have thereby also violated the following Fundamental Principles of the NBA Guidelines as given in Section-1 thereof:

  1. Fundamental Principles 1, in as much as you have consciously and willfully spread untruths and canards about Shobha, while sensationalizing her ghastly murder. You have also engaged in salacious rumour-mongering without any semblance of decency and respect for either the Victim or her family members and friends. You have effectively engaged in character assassination of Shobha, and tainted her in the eyes of the public without any basis or reason whatsoever except for TRP ratings.
  2. Fundamental Principle 2, in as much as you have failed to adhere to the degree of public service and journalistic integrity expected of a news media organisation. In fact you have created a public opinion against Shobha, by making a villain out of the victim.
  3. Fundamental Principle 4, in as much as you have designed your news program to specifically promote your archaic and patriarchal views on women, their autonomy, etc. which is harmful to society.
  4. Fundamental Principle 5, in as much as you have through your false portrayal about Shobha and the circumstances leading to her murder, not only failed to educate the public on this issue, you have actually spread lies, falsehoods, biases and prejudice amongst the public.
  5. Fundamental Principle 6, in as much as you have willfully neglected and/or failed to obtain any opinion from any member of Shobha’s family or anyone at all in reality before building this mountain of lies about her relationship with her murderer, thereby indulging in blatantly one sided journalism and rumour-mongering. There is not a semblance of fair presentation of news and in reality it was merely a sensationalised versions

Additionally you have violated all the principles of self-regulation in Section 2.

  • Principle 1 mandating Impartiality and objectivity in reporting accurately identifies accuracy as being at the heart of the news television business and that viewers of 24 hour news channels expect speed, but it is the responsibility of TV news channels to keep accuracy, and balance, as precedence over speed. The programme telecast by you is totally contrary to this principle in its intent, content, purpose, tone and tenor. There is no doubt that such programmes must be taken off the air.
  • It is violative of Principle 2 in as much as there is no neutrality whatsoever in the programme that was aired. Shobha, the victim, the unfortunate person who lost her life, was set on trial and convicted guilty by the trial by you in the telecast prgramme.
  • Principle 3 and 4 too have been given a total go-by in as much as you have sensationalized the stalking and murder of a woman without any sense of restraint. The entire programme was prejudicial, inflammatory, and crossed all boundaries of good taste and sensibility without any concern for the pain, fear or suffering of the family and friends.

You have intruded on private lives and the personal affairs of Shobha and her family without any larger and identifiable public interest except to increase the TRPs of your programme.

You are also in gross violation of the “Specific Guidelines Covering Reportage” dated February 10, 2009, and the Guidelines on Broadcast of Potentially Defamatory Content in regard to lack of any accuracy having failed to gather information from any source or more than one source and resorted to wild-flinging allegations and rumour-mongering. Without a doubt you have forced your opinion, analysis and comments on an analysis of the murder of Shobha without any sense of impartiality, neutrality, fairness and balanced reportage. You have created a false, misleading, defamatory and scandalous story about her and have, in fact, condoned her murder.

Your actions have the effect of prejudging and or pre-deciding the cause of the murder and is gross interference in the administration of justice and victim and her family’s right to a fair trial.

You have failed to treat the dead with any respect and that is unacceptable.

You have caused incalculable harm to her family and friends by your grossly inaccurate and prejudiced reportage.

The entire programme is replete with derogatory, derisive or judgmental statements and tickers. There is no absolutely no identifiable public interest that justifies this kind of unethical and prejudiced programme. The sole purpose of providing a sensational story was to increase TRP ratings, which is reprehensive. The news report aired is therefore in clear violation of all the Principles of the NBA Guidelines.

This complaint is to call upon your channel to make amends for these violations and air an apology to each and every member of the victim’s family, and to her memory. Further you are required to air a news article apologizing for your prejudiced, unsubstantiated, malicious, and vicious content and comments.

You are also called upon to widely advertise your apologies in every news daily (newspaper) published in the city of Bengaluru in Kannada and English Language, on two separate days, so that the repairing of the damage that your news broadcast has caused is impactful and of a sustained nature.

Please take note that this complaint is being sent to you by E-mail on the morning of 21.04.2017. As per the guidelines of NBA, you are requested to make the amends sought above, within 7 calendar days from today, i.e. on or before the 28.04.2017, failing which this matter will either be referred for further action under the News Broadcasting Standards (Disputes Redressal) Regulations and Guide to the Complaints Process, or any other civil or criminal proceeding that may be deemed appropriate may be taken against your news organisation at your sole risk and cost.

Yours Sincerely

 

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