Every individual has their opinions and preferences, and the media organizations are no exception to them. However, this becomes a problem when the media outlets, in order to abide by their preferences, start peddling a particular narrative, filled with half-truths and fabricated coverage, in order to mislead the citizens. Such coverage had gained much momentum ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The Modi government has now taken a step to thwart this dishonest propaganda by stopping the central government advertisements to these outlets.
As reported by Pgurus, media organizations including The Times Group, The Hindu and The Telegraph newspapers have stopped receiving advertisements from the central government. The reason for stopping the ads to these media houses is not hard to imagine. The Times Group has become synonymous with anti-Hindu agenda peddling and have been pointed out for misrepresentation a number of times in the past. The most prominent one was Times of India’s article on unnatural sexual harassment by a “Muslim godman”, for which strangely enough, an image of a Hindu Sadhu was used. Before that, Times of India had published an article about trafficking prevalent at madrassas, whose tagline also included the term “Veda Pathshalas”; although the entire article had zero reference to it. A legal notice of misrepresentation had been served to the Times of India for this, after which they deleted the article. Apart from ToI, Mirror Now is also quite infamous for its ‘secular’ propaganda.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, The Hindu had done everything in its power to defame the Modi government, by twisting facts and spreading fake news. They had even gone as far as to fabricate documents. In order to falsely implicate the Modi government in the Rafale deal, The Hindu had cropped the Rafale documents in a highly unethical manner. Their interference in the Rafale deal had been evident throughout the election campaigning, with them publishing articles with headlines such as “Modi’s Decision to buy 36 Rafales shot the price of each jet up by 41%”, without corroborating the facts.
1n #Thread on @the_hindu & #Rafale. Thanks Paneerselvam, before i thought it was a case if shoddy journalism, now since you made me do a forensic analysis, I know now that it's a case of ACTIVE & DELIBERATE lying. First up here are the @ANI & @the_hindu images side by side. pic.twitter.com/rLQFgA3XoW
— Abhijit Iyer-Mitra (@Iyervval) February 18, 2019
Over and above The Times Group and The Hindu is The Telegraph. The Kolkata based portal has neither journalism ethics, nor any morals and is just plainly immersed in defaming the Modi government. From sexist attacks on Smriti Irani to constantly peddling fake news to target the Modi government, The Telegraph did everything it could to target the Modi government, journalism be damned. Not just restricted to peddling fake and biased news, The Telegraph had also resorted to becoming derogatory and sexist towards Union Minister Smriti Irani, by calling her “Aunty National” after her speech in the Parliament.
According to a report by Pgurus, the Times of India Group was getting an average of more than Rs. 15 crores a month from Central Government’s advertisements and The Hindu was getting around Rs.4 crores a month on an average basis. This remuneration, being used to fabricate information, has now been stopped. Ironically, the situation has been brought to light by the Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Wednesday during the Zero hour. Although the media organizations have been silent on the stoppage of the ads; The Hindu and The Telegraph have reported Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s allegations, with The Telegraph proudly highlighting their own name. They probably didn’t want to make it an issue as the media portals are well aware of their own actions which has resulted to this.
It is important to note that the Bureau of Outreach and Communication of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on 29th May this year had specified in its policy guidelines that the Nodal Agency won’t release advertisements to the media outlets which indulge in unethical news reporting, peddling fake narratives and anti-India contents.
India as a democracy has respected the freedom of speech and expression given to the media but exploiting that freedom to fabricate facts and peddle fake news is unacceptable. The press has a responsibility towards the people and when they spread fake news, it tends to have a negative impact on the naïve people, who tend to believe it. By taking this step, the government is withholding the economic benefits given to these portals through the central government which is then used in furtherance to an unethical propaganda. The Modi government has taken a great step to stop feeding the unethical, vindictive and hateful rags masquerading as media houses. Hopefully, they will now resort to a more ethical manner of reporting.