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Channel ethics and democracy through threats

Channel ethics and democracy through threats

The police have registered a case against Asianet News on allegations of fake news. Around thirty SFI activists have also been booked for barging in and creating a ruckus at the Kochi office of the Channel. As lapses that should have been avoided, both incidents call for introspection from all those concerned. A video that was aired during an investigative series brought to light that drug abuse and trade were rampant among school students in the state. In August last year, a schoolgirl from Kannur alleged that she was drugged and raped by some people. The allegation against Asianet News is that the channel shot the same video with another girl shot in the video, four months later, as part of the program. The channel has been accused of fabricating the video. The Vellayil, Kozhikode police registered a case on the basis of a complaint filed by the MLA P V Anwar. And on Sunday, police raided the Asianet office in Kozhikode.

The channel has not yet commented on the incident until writing this. It is also unclear as to why there was any need of fabricating news during a series that exposes the influence of the drug mafia when there are too many real incidents happening. When the false propaganda has the potential to foil the efforts undertaken by all the sections of the society in the state against the drug mafia especially when it’s starting to yield results, then it should be a matter of concern. Above all, if the allegations are true, it would mean that the channel has crossed the limits of media ethics. Years ago, another news channel, set a trap in order by deputing a female journalist to implicate a minister. The same kind of falsehood might be likely present in this case as well. Those responsible had confessed to the crime then. If the channel had shown another girl’s covered face as a visual background for the words of the real victim, it could have stated that fact along with the news. It would hardly help the channel's case if it delays the explanation about what actually transpired in the matter.

At the same time, the atrocities of the SFI team who trespassed into the office of the channel saying that they were protesting, cannot be justified. The fact that they barged into the channel office at night, pushing aside the security personnel and put up posters inside, is akin to challenging the rule of law. The police are investigating the matter on the basis of the complaint filed by the channel. The MLA has alleged that the channel created a fake video to make news; that their aim was to create a wrong impression that the government schools in the state were in the grip of the drug peddlers and to spread the false rumours that the police and the excise were inept.

When the issue was raised in the assembly, the Chief Minister said that legal action would be taken in the matter. Soon after, followers of the ruling party trespassed into the channel office. What is the message that is being sent out through this? It is a warning to be cautious while reporting against the government. If the channel had violated the law, it should come to light through the investigation as assured by the Chief Minister. Instead, the party followers taking the law into their hands is not only unjust but also dangerous. Media freedom is as important as media ethics. Today, the crusade against drug abuse conducted by the state is important as well. Whether it is the media, the different political parties, the lawmakers or the government, crossing their boundaries will be self-defeating.

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TAGS:Asianet story on drug peddling in schools SFI activists police search of Asianet media ethic media freedom 
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