TV9 defends its coverage

BY HASEENA SHAIK| IN Media Practice | 14/04/2018
TV9 Telugu does not need to be taught lessons on women’s rights, ethics or the right to privacy. We know what we are doing.
HASEENA SHAIK strong defends the channel


Behind Ms. Padmaja Shaw’s article “Character assassination by Telugu media and its fallout” there is a clear, avowed agenda to tarnish nationwide the image of the pro-people channel TV9 Telugu.

Before giving an answer to the professor let us see what is TV9’s policy on  women’s issues:

  • We have aired scores of stories where daughters-in-law were being harassed for dowry or burnt for dowry or for "not giving birth to a male child" etc. 
  • In all such cases, we admit that we did enter into their premises, led by the harassed wife, and questioned the husband, in-laws, his sister and, at times, his concubine or "second wife". There was no resistance from the perpetrators, perhaps because they were not from the police department. 
  • Several harassed housewives got justice. It is no exaggeration to say that now, people think twice before ill-treating their daughters-in-law. Dowry death/bride burning cases are heard of rarely in Telugu states thanks to the awareness created by TV9. 
  • There are at least 10 examples in the past 12 years where TV9 crews entered premises, at the behest of neglected wives and children, to confront “influential” or "cruel" husbands who were maintaining separate "families". In almost all cases, the wife concerned used to slap her husband who either sought a pardon or divorce, liberating the woman from humiliation.    


In all those cases, we were never accused of violating their privacy. No one, including Shaw, said we had transgressed anyone’s private spaces. No one wondered how a disgruntled wife could use a Telugu news channel to conduct a sting on her husband and in-laws and turn it into breaking news! Shaw had no complaint on those occasions.

"There are at least 10 examples in the past 12 years where TV9 crews entered premises, at the behest of neglected wives and children"


In their own dens, we dared to expose the tricks of several cheating parasites on society known as babas, pastors, and murshads. We were never accused by anyone, including this journalism teacher, of intruding into the privacy of our "holy godmen". 

In all these cases, we invariably advised the victims initially, as per our policy, to report their complaint to the police. But for reasons best known to them, all of them used to insist that we should help them. 


Our path is full of thorns

We have been regularly targeted in social media by riff-raff elements with physical threats and vulgar language. Day in and day out, there have been communal, casteist, politically motivated attacks, abuses and rumour-mongering to wean us away from our chosen path.  Had we changed tack by adopting a safe course of journalism and by singing accolades to the status quo and to the ruling classes, we would have benefitted, like some of media houses in the country.  But we know our path is full of thorns. 

While we are upholding the principles of journalism against all odds, we are periodically accused of supporting one or the other of the political parties of the ruling classes. But our adversaries know very well that their charge is unfounded but those morons simply cannot appreciate our independent stand on all parties.


The facts about the adultery case

Now, coming to the specific issue referred in Shaw’s article.

The First Information Report filed by the husband states criminal trespass into his apartment, a threat to his life and, adultery. He also stated that his wife and her lover (both policemen) cheated him and kept him in the dark about their illicit relationship till 2016. When he questioned her about the extra-marital affair, his wife admitted her fault and assured him she would end it. However, Shaw says that the couple were “estranged” and that the poor lady (whom Shaw describes as a “dynamic” police officer dealing with high profile criminal cases) was “trying” for a divorce. 

She does not say in her article why the upright, dynamic officer working on crucial cases did not send any notice to her husband who is said to be “denying” her a divorce. Is the wife unaware of basic law?  

It is said in Shaw’s article that the man (another officer said to be taking care of a high profile criminal case) dropped the lady officer off at midnight after having dined together and was leaving her place. It asked where was the need for the camera to be ushered up to the bedroom. Thus the writer unwittingly admitted that TV9 did not lay in wait outside to “confront” the couple. If the contention of confronting was right, how is that the lady officer was not to be seen in any of the visuals?  In fact, she would have got a lot of scope to say frankly that they were close friends returning from a late night dinner.  

Even otherwise, the lady had plenty of time to come out of her apartment/room and face the camera to deny the allegations made by her husband.  She chose not to do so, hiding somewhere in response to the verbal advice of her paramour. 

Later, she did not respond to many messages from the channel to give her version. 

The scenario described in Shaw’s article seems to be meant to help the defence counsel of the two individuals in the ensuing departmental inquiry on the charges, inter alia, of adultery. It is doubtful whether any counsel would accept such theories.

"The fact of the issue is that the husband, the mother and aunt of the lady officer approached TV9 around midnight on the day of incident"


It is not explained in the article what made the two old women (the lady officer's mother and aunt (mother's sister) express their anguish at the lady officer and the cop. Is it enough to call them ignorant or innocent or old-fashioned? Does any mother try to take vengeance on her own daughter unless she has some very compelling reasons? Didn't the aunt weep saying that the officer had been exploited by her lover for five years and that the officer herself confessed to her that she would come out of the mess? How much agony they must have undergone to openly say that?

The fact of the issue is that the husband, the mother and aunt of the lady officer approached TV9 around midnight on the day of incident. They did not heed our advice and not at all inclined to complain to the police, saying that both the individuals concerned were themselves police officers who could go to any extent against them.

The footage clearly shows that the hapless, weak husband was visibly terrified at the well-built figure of the cop. The husband repeatedly tried to maintain a distance from the policeman, saying that the latter had threatened to shoot him dead in an “encounter”. (“Encounter” is an abused term in India, particularly in Telangana and AP because an encounter takes place, but not staged. Even in movies, the cops threaten “criminals” that they will “encounter” them and governments also don’t object to such scenes.)

Her mother was naturally worried and concerned about her daughter's future as the latter is already once divorced. And, according to the police, her educational qualifications were also being enquired into since their genuineness was under doubt.   


Was the policewoman really so ‘dynamic’?

It is news to us that the lady is a “dynamic” police officer.  In fact, any officer is expected to be dynamic. It is also news that the Miyapur land scam was unearthed by the lady officer whereas we learnt from the police department that the Anti-Corruption Bureau, where the woman works, was not concerned with unearthing the Miyapur land scam and that the lady officer participated only in the searches made on the corrupt revenue officials concerned.  

We fail to understand what action she took against the politicians and bureaucrats in the scam since, in the arrests made by the police, no politician was among those arrested. Incidentally, it was TV9 which exposed the scam by making public, for the first time, the names of those behind it. 

Similarly, in the note for vote case, it was the legislator concerned (MLC belonging to the ruling Telangana Rashtyra Samiti) who secretly alerted the Telangana government that he was being offered a bribe by the TDP through Revanth Reddy, TDP MLA. But for his cooperation, there could not have been any sting on the TDP MLA.

Perhaps no unusual talent is required for a sting operation like that when everything was kept ready by the MLC concerned. As per the procedure, Chandra Babu Naidu, presently Chief Minister of AP, Revanth Reddy (Congress) and others accused in the case may have to face criminal proceedings.  Let us watch.

And the Naxal-turned-gangster Nayeem was moving freely, extorting money, grabbing lands and killing civil rights activists with patronage from the police and politicians. In fact, he was operating with the connivance of the authorities and political bosses right from the time of his betraying the CPI (Maoist) (then known as CPI (People’s War), and "surrendering" to the government.

Our sources in the police department confirmed that the gangster was killed in an “encounter” by the “Greyhounds’ (the anti-insurgency team specially trained to eliminate Naxals in Telangana/AP) in association with the Dichpally (Nizamabad) police. We fail to understand the role of Mallikarjun Reddy, an Inspector of Police, in the operation or before that, relating to the state-sponsored heinous crimes of the gangster.    

It is outrageous and irresponsible to say that the media kept secret the movements of Nayeem as though the media was in league with his masters/mentors.  The aversion of some people for Telugu channels makes them so blind as to dare to attribute anything to the channels and make blatantly false allegations.  (Even if an intellectual of the calibre of the late Nirad C. Chowdhury were to run a vernacular channel, they will not take it kindly).

Had Shaw been following TV9, she would know that it was we who had telecast a telephone interview of Nayeem while he was “underground” at least five years before his "encounter" death, to question him on the “rumours” about him and to see whether he would spell out any of his future plans. We also covered his carefully scripted "daring escape" from Nampally Criminal Court premises, commenting that he had the blessings of the powerful in the then combined state of AP. 

It has to be watched carefully who are those powerful people who will face prosecution in Nayeem's case. We are not sure at this stage that the case will be taken to its logical end.

We maintain that an investigation is done by a team of officers and there is no occasion to think that the police complaint lodged by the lady officer's husband and the ensuing inquiry would affect the logical conclusion in the three cases mentioned. We think an administration worth its name doesn't depend on individuals and that it is the system that is important. Let's see how the Telangana government would be handicapped in those cases consequent on the suspension of these two “indispensable” individuals. The professor may like to address the government about her anxieties about the fate of the high profile cases. 

"The writer chose to ignore TV9’s hour to hour follow up and daily panel discussions on the suicide for months together"


It is preposterous to say that the media is responsible if somebody claiming to be the father of, say, Rohith Vemula gives a bite on his own about the boy’s caste status. Should we have turned him down or blocked the bite? Why should anybody be afraid of that man’s bite which was of no consequence? Is it such a “strong” statement which cannot be countered by the concerned? Does his brief bite have any relevance at all to the main issue, i.e. the suicide of the promising young student and the later developments? Why should anybody be carried away only by that old man’s bite as though it affects the investigation into the suicide?  As a responsible medias house, we did our best to highlight the role of the ruling BJP, the state government, and the university authorities in diluting and diverting the issue.  

The writer chose to ignore TV9’s hour to hour follow up and daily panel discussions on the suicide for months together. More relevant are the untimely tragic death of a brilliant student and the role of the system and the individuals responsible for it.  

It shows Shaw's utter contempt towards the Telugu media when she compares, without context, our coverage of these two policemen with the cases of Uma Khurana and Hardik Patel. In a frenzy to interfere with our editorial content, she seems willing to go to any extent in her campaign of calumny.   


What about the other women?

At the same time, what we fail to understand is the silence of the writer and her friends on the hurt and humiliation being felt by the wife of the allegedly adulterous policeman. Why have they no concern for her? For them, does she exist at all?  What about the agony of the lady officer's mother and aunt who openly sympathised with the husband? The question is: Are they not women? Don't they deserve any consideration because they are not educated and dynamic enough to be recognised by you?

We still maintain, on the basis of our past experience, that the issue would not have been taken up by these worthies had the policeman’s wife been present there to lead the camera into the residential complex. 

The writer, being a retired professor of journalism, has shown her vast knowledge of various laws governing the functioning of the media.  Hope all those concerned will be enlightened enough to give a facelift to the backward media. 

Since the issue of “adultery” is under inquiry with the government, we will wait for its outcome. 

We may take this opportunity to state that we are not against feminism or feminists. Even though they limit their activity within certain pockets in the metropolitan city, we have been giving maximum coverage in our weekly programme Naveena and our management has always been encouraging and never expressed any adverse view on any episode of Naveena.  Here it is relevant to quote what our CEO Ravi Prakash says about feminism, whether one agrees with him or not:

“There is no feminism beyond humanism. Why? Because I am aware that an overwhelming majority of the populace in India, including the so-called enlightened states like Bengal and Kerala, still strongly believe that the institution of marriage is sacrosanct. Notwithstanding my telecasting a feminist-friendly programme like Naveena every week, I, as a media person, cannot afford to own feminism exclusively and take on my viewers  headway, on a full scale, here and now as most of them are illiterate or semi-literate or educated ignorant. This is what I learned while understanding and applying to our conditions the teachings of Morgan, Engels and other social anthropologists.” 

Shaw not only goes on to defend the indefensible by fabricating funny alibis but also pays tributes to the two policemen for being upright, dynamic and indispensable for high profile cases, as though we, as media persons, are not aware. (Based on facts, we have already demolished her stand that they were attending to crucial cases, as if without them, there is no justice for anybody in Telangana society).

What is more, she is over-zealous in attributing a political agenda to the channel for the story aired. In that case, the affected husband, his mother-in-law the mother of the lady officer, her sister and the innocent wife of the paramour were also the co-conspirators who worked for the agenda? What a ridiculous and reckless argument!  

As committed journalists, we at TV9 Telugu hope the management of The Hoot will continue to guide the media in the sub-continent and that, whenever a controversy is raised against a media house - particularly against the regional media in the south far away from Delhi or Mumbai - natural justice and fair play dictate that some space is given to their view also.


Haseena Shaik is editor TV9 Telugu




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