Free speech and TV Media Bigotry 

The power of the TV:

TV Media is a powerful medium. It’s power lies in moving people to form an opinion without giving all facts or giving just rudimentary facts. Print media does not have this privilege. In the guise of breaking news TV news and say anything and get away with it.

What is bigotry?

This is the definition of bigotry:

“stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.”

If a breaking news is devoid of facts or complete falsehood or if news channel telecast a religious or criminal bigot’s untested views or worse threats like a loudspeaker, would that be fair?

Show cause notice to NDTV & other TV channels:


Free speech is important. But like equality between lamb and lion, unregulated freedom to free speech to  absconded criminals, religious bigots needs to be reviewed. Should they have freedom to give speech on prime time alongside the news?

Another question is timing of telecast. All this relate to hanging of Yakub Memon. On the day of his hanging these channels chose to telecast interview of Chota Shakeel live, who was challenging rather daring Govt of India to arrest the conspirators in Yakub’s 1993 Bomb blast.

Lively debate in narrow breadth:

A debate which does not cover all aspects of matter is unfair, no matter how lively it might be.

This is a profound observation of Chomsky’s. It is about epistemology itself and our human tendency to rigidly limit the parameters of any debate before us. ……The “lively debate” is permitted because it serves as an amusement to divert attention from the more weighty issues that lie just beyond the pale.

The above quote is from my Facebook friend Lewis. My reply was:

This principle is seen everyday and now a days media uses it to mould public opinions in a narrow tunnel and then steer it to biased destination.

Looking forward:

What next? Anybody remembers Al Zazeera? It was a mouth price of Osama bin Ladin. No other newspaper agreed to telecast his statements. Al Zazeera enjoyed very high TRP but then Osama was dead. Where is Al Zazeera now?

What these TV channels will do next for TRP? Telecast messages of Albagdadi of ISIS? Telecast Saeed Haneef live?

Word in air is that in future, telecast licences would have written prohibition against telecast of speech of enemies of State or something like that. May be a public law and judicial tribunal to do that would be better on the lines of Unlawful Organisation Prohibition Act.

Let’s see what happens. This is just a tap on the wrist. TV press competing with entertainment channels have to mature and find some other means of earning TRP. Investigative journalism is one such way of raising TRP which can actually help people but it will require hard work. Will they do it?

About Sandeep Bhalla

A lawyer, thinker, author, Linux/Ubuntu power user and sometime an economist or gardener or philosopher or cook or photographer depending upon the current thought and environment. View all posts by Sandeep Bhalla

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