Between 20th May to 26th May 2017, NDTV 24*7 captured weekly impressions amounting to 210. Just to put things in perspective, the weekly impressions count for Arnab Goswami’s newly launched Republic TV was 1014000. Only years ago, NDTV was the channel people would turn to for fair, objective, in depth reporting. News anchors such as Prannoy Roy, Barkha Dutt, Vishnu Som, Vikram Chandra and others were renowned for the standard of their shows and the superior quality of their panel discussions. From Politics to Economy, Sports to International affairs, NDTV was the channel one could safely tune in for the real News without all the shor-sharaba that other channels resorted to. However, with time, the quality of news at NDTV began to plummet. Instead of news, viewers felt that views and opinions were being forced on them. Instead of impartial coverage of events, NDTV now portrayed news that catered to a particular political ideology. A clear bias began to be seen in NDTV’s news and shows. With the advent of Social Media, NDTV’s viewership began to drop. Viewers deserted NDTV’s loaded content for non-Mainstream news covered by Social media or alternative news channels. Soon, NDTV became the symbol of all that is wrong with India’s Mainstream Media. No wonder that people started referring to NDTV as AgeNDaTV.
With the advent of Modi Sarkar, whose ascent to power, NDTV had tried to prevent with all its might, many felt that NDTV would abandon its agenda now that its political patrons were out of power. Nothing of the sort happened though and NDTV merrily continued to adopt a hardcore anti-establishment line, while deliberately downplaying its achievements. Even in face of grave provocations, BJP spokespersons continued to attend shows and debates at NDTV, where more often than not, they were ganged upon by the other panelists and NDTV.
Many wondered why BJP should even send its spokespersons to a channel that was so overtly opposed to the party and its ideology and yet BJP persisted.
Its spokespersons would emerge from the shows battered, bruised, ridiculed, not allowed to speak, frequently interjected and yet they were there again the next day. Senior BJP spokesperson and debater par excellence, Sambit Patra recently received the same treatment from NDTV’s Nidhi Razdan. Accused of frequently interjecting other panelists on Razdan’s ‘Left, right and Centre’, Sambit mentioned that he was forced to interject because ”NDTV has an agenda and I need to do that (presumably, to put my point across)”. It was perhaps Sambit’s brazenness in stating the obvious that rankled Nidhi instantly. Used to being the bully for too long, Nidhi perhaps was taken aback at Sambit’s display of aggression. “Either you apologize or leave the show”, she thundered, trying in vain to take back control of the show.
Unlike other BJP spokespersons, Sambit Patra was in no mood to beat a hasty retreat. While he was surprised at being asked to leave, he held his ground and said that he was there to put BJP’s point across and wouldn’t leave.
The shouting contest between Nidhi and Sambit lasted for a couple of minutes when Nidhi blocked Sambit and proceeded with the other panelists.
Many ‘experts’ have upheld Nidhi Razdan’s behavior as a display of professionalism and have slammed Sambit Patra for his choice of words, his threat to boycott the channel etc.
Frankly, that is not what one can surmise after watching the video clip. Far from being professional, Nidhi Razdan came across as someone who was used to having her way and exploded when challenged. The word ‘Agenda’ in particular ticked her off. Sambit Patra on the other hand appears to hold his ground till he was blocked by Nidhi Razdan, who pointedly asks him to leave because it was ‘my programme’ and describing other news channels as ‘glorified versions of Doordarshan‘. In today’s day and age when News anchors regularly insult panelists and panelists do not hesitate in indulging in a screaming match with the anchors, it is not really breaking news to see Sambit Patra being asked to leave by Nidhi Razdan but the issue which aroused Nidhi’s fury seemed more like Nidhi’s efforts to censor her panelists more than anything else.
Many feel that it is disgraceful that BJP spokespersons still attend NDTV programmes knowing fully well the fate that awaits them. Rather, Sambit Patra shows the way.
BJP spokespersons must attend all NDTV programmes and boldly and loudly put across the ‘AgeNDaTV’ point across again and again. They may be thrown out, blacked out or even blocked but they should waste no opportunity to expose NDTV’s true face before its rapidly dwindling viewership. For a channel that for days shuffled between Ox and buffalo to describe the Calf that was slaughtered in Kerala, that spends hours on Hindutva terror but goes silent on the real terrorism that is haunting the world, that covers scams of BJP ministers in detail but papers over those of Congress, it is very difficult to not call NDTV as being agenda driven. Kudos to Sambit Patra for being brave enough and stating the obvious!
As for Nidhi Razdan, Doordarshan is making a quiet turnaround thanks to the likes of you who have reduced Journalism to a puppet show, with strings being firmly operated by your political patrons.