Shri. Anand Jakhotia, the erstwhile Spokesperson of Sanatan Sanstha was invited to a debate on the ‘Times Now’ channel. The behaviour of Mr. Arnab Goswami, the Chief Editor of the ‘Times Now’ channel towards Shri. Jakhotia was unbecoming of his stature. In protest, a complaint letter was lodged with ‘Times Now’ channel as well as the ‘News Broadcasting Standards Authority’. Below is a copy of the protest letter.
Mr. Arnab Goswami, Chief Editor of ‘Times Now’ channel
News Broadcasters Association
Reg. Off.: Juris House Ground Floor,
22, Inder Enclave, Paschim Vihar,
New Delhi 110 087
Subject : Contemptuous journalism by Mr Arnab Goswami, Chief Editor of ‘Times Now’, by resorting to prejudicial attitude and forcing the guest speaker to limit his views only to Goswami’s liking without giving guest speaker opportunity to express his opinion freely
Dear Sir/ Madam,
I was invited to appear as a guest speaker to participate in the programme ‘News Hour’ hosted at 10 pm on 24th March 2014. Mr Pramod Mutalik, President of Shriram Sena from Karnataka, and his personal assistant Mr Kumar Hakari, Mr Sunil Handu, Secretary of Shriram Sena alongwith social workers Ms Abha Singh, Ranjana Kumari and Adv. Vrunda Grover also participated in this talk show. On this occasion, I and verily my organisation Sanatan Sanstha received very prejudicial and contemptuous treatment.
Taking into consideration the importance of journalism in a democratic set up, it becomes essential for you to take cognizance of the inappropriate behaviour of infringement of the Code of Conduct stipulated by News Broadcasters Association by a leading news channel like ‘Times Now’ and its editor. Even after lodging the complaint through Speedpost (Vide docket no. EMO 17814171IN) with the DGM Legal and Company Secretary Ms. Jyothi Suresh Kumar on 17.4.2014 and through e-mail on 18.4.2014, as per your rules, no cognizance was taken. They have failed even to display common courtesy to reply the e-mail. You are, therefore, requested to look into the matter at earliest and take suitable action. For this purpose, I am enclosing a copy of the original complaint sent to ‘Times Now’ for further necessary action.
1. The above programme was organised to discuss the entry of Mr Pramod Mutalik in BJP and its subsequent cancellation. During total 30 minutes of the programme, for the initial period of 23 minutes I was denied opportunity to speak, and when I started to give reply to a question put up to me, I was not allowed to complete even a sentence, and the discussion was diverted to another aspect. Is it not a prejudicial attitude to invite someone as a guest speaker, and then allow him to talk just a single sentence ?
2. Many viewers realised that Mr Goswami was conducting the talk show with a pre-determined objective. Therefore, he would allow only those, who support his contention to talk; whereas, smother the voice of those, who opposed Mr Goswami’s viewpoint. If you were to review the recording of this show, it would reveal the prejudiced attitude very clearly.
3. While referring to the topics concerned with religious emotions of crores of Hindus and the expansive religion like Hindu Dharma, he would ask questions like ‘Whether this is specified in Hindu Dharma (note) ?’, ‘Are you licensed to talk about Dharma (note) ?’ etc. without giving any opportunity to others for replying to these questions. Every participant has the right to express his opinion in such programmes. Mr Arnab Goswami should have realised that you do not need license to express one’s opinion.
4. Because of the prejudice displayed by Mr. Goswami by crossing every limit of decency, Shriram Sena’s President, Mr Pramod Mutalik and his personal assistant Mr Kumar Hakari walked out of the programme midway. This incident should have been taken really seriously. But Mr Arnab Goswami may welcome such incidents in order to earn cheap publicity so as to increase TRP of his programmes, however, it would have been prudent to realise one’s responsibility.
5. During above talk show, I raised the question as to when the discussions in the programme revolved around the assault on girls during attack on a pub occurred in 2009, in Karnataka, why media chose to remain silent on anti-social elements committing atrocities on 14 lady police-constables and physically assaulting police officers during the riot that took place in 2012, in Azad Maidan, Mumbai, I was accused of inflaming communal passions. However, no discussions were allowed for clarifying how my question is related to communal passions. When a programme was organised regarding Mr Mutalik on the basis of an incident occurred in 2009, why the question was not allowed about the riot that occurred in 2012, in Azad Maidan ?
This, in fact, sadly displays Mr Gosvami’s unilateral journalism arousing communal passions, since both the incidents had similar references.
6. Few statements of Mr Goswami displaying his arrogance :
A. On one hand, a Spokesperson of a Spiritual organisation is invited to speak in the programme and on the other, insulting that organisation by telling its spokesperson ‘I will not allow your hooliganism on the TV channel !’ Why those, who practice hooliganism would participate in a talk show ?
B. Mr Gosvami was asking questions at the top of his voice, whereas asking me to tone down my answers.
C. He would say, ‘I will ask only questions and you have to just answer ! If you feel like replying, just answer or keep mum. If you desire, you can walk out of the programme.’
D. He would say, ‘मैं आपसे प्रश्न पुछता हूं, इसकी आपको शर्म आती है क्या ? अगर आपको शर्म नही आती, तो इस प्रश्न का जवाब दें ।’
E.’ You do not need to teach me about journalism.’
I am aware of the rule specified on the website of the ‘News Broadcasters Association’ that any complaint against TV news channel has to be made within 7 days. Even though this complaint is being made after 7 days, the complaint is an outcome of reactions received by us from the society. Further, the limit of 7 days is not statutory as in the case of rules framed by the Government. Still, if you did not entertain this complaint on these technical grounds, it would be presumed as your insensitivity towards the society. Therefore, we request you to take appropriate action against Mr Arnab Goswami without applying above 7 day’s rule.
Importantly, we are aware that the rules framed by ‘News Broadcasters Association’ representing TV channels like yours have framed rules, which suit you. Therefore, we rightly feel that you may reply that ‘No action can be taken on your letter’ under the pretext of not following rules framed to suit your convenience. However, this letter is written with false hope that if you were to possess some sensitivity towards society, sense of shame or minimum perspective about healthy journalism, you would make Mr Goswami realise his mistakes. You will be the right person to judge whether my apprehensions were right or wrong. However, as a representative of a social organisation, I would like to make it clear that my complaint and your response to it would go a long way in moulding the mind of the society. You may also perceive in a similar way.
Spokesperson, Sanatan Sanstha