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I.N.D.I.A. partners all set to blacklist more journalists ‘not favouring them’

NewsI.N.D.I.A. partners all set to blacklist more journalists ‘not favouring them’

A news agency’s and top English channels’ anchors may figure among the names on the second list.

NEW DELHI

The Opposition I.N.D.I.A bloc, it seems, is not done yet with its operation “media boycott”. After making public a list of 14 “biased and communal” journalists earlier this week, the 28-party grouping is believed to be working on a second list of news anchors whom they plan to boycott in the run-up to the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

Despite the alleged discontent within the bloc over the action against the news anchors, there are little signs of the alliance back-tracking on the arm-twisting tactic that the ruling BJP has compared with Emergency-era curbs under the Indira Gandhi government.

People in the know said the new names, apart from the 14 earlier ones, might include a news agency and its senior editor. The list also includes anchors of English channels from a media group whose Hindi channel anchors have already figured on the bloc’s blacklist.

However, there is no clear indication about the time when the second list on news anchors and media houses is likely to be released.

Sources said some news anchors who got to know about speculation on their name’s inclusion on the list have activated back-channel communications with members of I.N.D.I.A. media committee to save themselves from being branded as biased.

Meanwhile, a section of leaders within the alliance indicate that instead of singling out media persons, the 11 states run by the Opposition alliance should have stopped state-run ads on such TV channels.

Analysts and some party leaders within the bloc believe that instead of blacklisting journalists and media outlets, the alliance partners should have stopped giving advertisements to these channels which would have sent out a strong message to the management to think about their (media houses’) policies.

A political analyst said, “There are around 11 Opposition-ruled states and they send crores of rupees for advertisement to these media channels; should they limit it, it will have far and wide impact as there would be revenue loss and in order to operate, they want their media houses to flourish financially for which they will have to make adjustments and think about their approach twice.”

However, a source close to Mehbooba Mufti (who was part of the meeting) said, “There was no difference of opinion in the meeting. Whatever was passed was passed by consensus.”
The leaders present at the meeting were NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Congress’ K.C. Venugopal, CPI’s D. Raja, SP’s Jawed Ali Khan, DMK’s T.R. Baalu, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, AAP MP Raghav Chadha, JD(U)’s Sanjay Jha, NC leader Omar Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Sanjay Raut.

There is a common perception among the Opposition alliance leaders that such anchors or journalists who they have boycotted will not impact their image and their audience. “Therefore, it will not have much impact to our perception building.”

Asked why other journalists, who have matched the vigour of the other blacklisted journalists, were not named on the list, a Congress insider said, “If there is a TV channel and some of its journalists have been blacklisted, not all from the single channel have been blacklisted. They have tried to leave one or two so that it does not look like the alliance has boycotted the whole channel. Therefore, there would be other programs which will be attended by the alliance.” According to the party insider, it will also leave a message for other journalists that those left behind will be under scanner for propagating on-screen hatred.

There is also speculation that if the media is unable to adjust its approach toward Opposition parties and is unable to stop, what they call, one-sided journalism, then the Opposition-ruled states of the I.N.D.I.A bloc could also plan to stop all state-run ads on such channels. A leader said, “The plan would be to hit these channels financially.”

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