Monday, June 2, 2008

'Aaj Ki Awaz'-local news programme axed from Itanagar-Naharlagun Cable TV Network

The local electronic media in the state would never flourish; perhaps because of their ignorance to ‘Broadcasting Acts’, ignorance towards journalism ethics and above all may be because it is managed by non professionals without journalism background.

The memory is still etched in my mind when about a decade back, denizens of twin Capital Township of Naharlagun and Itanagar would rush back to their homes or in the event they are not in a position to make it to their homes, would make it a point to be near ‘Idiot-box’, wherever they are, to catch on the 15 mins local news programme ‘News and Views’ aired from Doordarshan Itanagar, every evening at 7.30 pm. It was produced for DD Itanagar by bureaucrat turned video film maker turned journalist and NE TV media awardee and NETV correspondent for Arunachal, Taro Chatung and it became an instant hit gripping the psyche of Arunachalees. It became hit not because the content was good or the presentation was awesome-in fact, with the kind of accent and the questions put during interview, it was rather comical; but because the journalist-cum-anchor-cum-editor-cum-producer would put the questions to politicians that the masses always wanted to ask but a conventional media would not dare to. However, when the popularity of ‘News and Views’ was at it’s peak, it was taken off-the air rather haphazardly with Doordarshan Authorities citing denial of further extension to the programme.

The void left by ‘News and Views’ was filled by another local news programme ‘Aaj ki Awaj’ quite some years later. It was produced by a Hiba Kaha and unlike it’s predecessor 'News and Views', it was beamed through local Cable TV service. Devoid of any electronic news media in the state, like it's predecessor News and Views, Aaj ki Awaj too became an instant hit among the masses. Quite recently, it even celebrated it’s 250th episodes in a grandiose manner by inviting Bollywood singer Udit Narayan. Alas, their rejuvenation was short lived. Exercising the power under section 19 of the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, the Papum Pare Deputy Commisioner has prohibited the transmission or re-transmission of 'Aaj Ki Awaz'. The ban came after it was found that the programme was violating the section 5, 6(d) and 6(e) of Cable Network Rules 1994.

The DM in an order issued today under section 19 of the Act, the copy of which was released to the Press, said that the channel has been airing it's programme without registering with the registering authority or without permission from the authorized officer thereby violating section 5 of Rules 1994.

It has been found violating section 6(d) of Cable Network Rules 1994 by airing programme for over a year which are "defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendos and half truths," the order said, adding it blatantly violated section 6(e) by "encouraging or inciting violence or presenting news items against the maintenance of law and order."
-Arunachal Front

No doubt, any agency violating the law should be dealt with strictly, but in this particular case what amazed me is the timing. Why now? Why after 250th episodes and not before? Was it not violating the rules earlier? Besides, aren't the charges quite flimsy, especially section 5 of Cable Network Rules 1994. Whom is it applicable to-'Aaj Ki Awaz'-a news programme or the Cable TV Service Provider, who was airing the programme?

Inadvertently, a comparison is drawn between 'News and Views' and 'Aaj Ki Awaz'. Both were known for it's 'straight forwardness' leaving the interviewee in an awkward position. Now I only wonder, did both the programmes became victim of their 'straight forwardness'?

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5 comments:

  • Rome Mele

    I am hardly surprised!

    Reason: Arunachal govt's rulings and the timing, are concomitant entities that baffles any laid-down logics. But however, these kinds never run dry.

    Things that can change the dynamics of governance or least to say, has the potential to jeopardize the undisputed mantle of Politicos and Bureaucrats of AP - Has a seemingly and similar End - ALWAYS !

    A subscription that we religiously would need to adhere to - for times and its length that we are unaware of.

  • Buru

    ag,
    Your post has brought out the gist of the matter and has correctly diagnosed the cause of this action too.

    It doesnt require intelligence to see that this is an act of muzzling the press who got too pesky with real questions.Quoting archaic rules in this lawless state is the self-evident proof:)
    Having said that, there is a silver lining:

    There was a time when, during Apangs rule, some journalists(Telegraph/?Aaj tak if I remember correctly) who asked too many questions were summarily beaten up, bundled into gypsies and dumped @ Banderdewa never to return.
    Then local journalism developed, but even AT and AD had their offices ransacked by goons from AAPSU and ANSU for minor ' offences' .I heard even Taro Chatung got physical threats.
    But in the past few years, the politicians and their sidekicks, as well as the all-powerful Civil Servants(eg CS/DC/SDO/CO)had their untrammelled power questioned, at times successfully, by citizens in the Court of Law( meaning High Court branch in NLG, not the Kangaroo courts run by DC/SDO/CO).This has come about due to increased awareness+availability of money for fighting cases+ availability of local advocates+ availability of HC branch in NLG.
    The very fact that the powers be resorted to using the DMs office (due to above reasons)to shut down AKA, and not use thugs to bash them up as is the usual practice, is an encouraging sign for the future for fress freedom and public empowerment.
    Or am I too optimistic:)?

  • dani sulu

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • AG

    @Rome,
    I too felt that the main issue was not the violation of law as was made out to be-in that case 'Aaj Ki Awaz' wouldn't have broadcast more than 250 news capsules-but as said by you, may be 'Aaj Ki Awaz' and for that matter 'News & Views', had the potential to challenge the undisputed mantle of Politicos' and Bureaucrats.Or else, shouldn't these two programmes have escaped with warning and a minor penalty instead of getting banned:)

    @Buru,
    Or am I too optimistic:)?

    May be you are?:)

    It has to be seen, if AKA would stand up to the ban and challenge the order. But then, there is this habit(carelessness) towards adherence to the guidelines and laws by the people of the state. I'm not sure, if AKA is registered, though I'm pretty much sure that the Cable Operator operating in Capital Complex is a registered one. Let's see what AKA does? Are they informed enough? :)

  • Anonymous

    @AG

    when i went through the news in AT i had the opinion that it would have been due to trivial reasons.

    your comments put it in right way as readers can get better view of it

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