Porngate panel trains guns on media

The Assembly committee probing the porngate, on Wednesday, is learnt to have grilled a representative of a private Kannada news channel which telecast two former ministers watching porn clippings in the Assembly recently.

File photo

The committee, headed by BJP MLA Srishilappa Bidarur, had summoned the representative of the channel and quizzed him for about one-and-a-half hour. The probe has become a BJP-only show as both the Opposition parties have boycotted the meetings of the committee. The panel has seven members, four of whom belong to the BJP.

The Opposition parties have decided not to associate themselves with the panel. Both the Congress and JD(S) have been arguing that there is no need for any probe into the issue and have been demanding that Speaker K G Bopaiah should disqualify the ‘tainted’ members.

Sources said the committee had issued summons to two private TV news channels for telecasting the former ministers – Lakshman Savadi, C C Patil and Krishna Palemar - watching porn clips. But the representative of one of the channels did not turn up. The Speaker, who set up the Committee, has asked it to probe among other things, whether the TV channels were legally permitted to telecast such events from the Assembly.

The questions posed to the TV journalist seemed to suggest the channel had committed a blunder by exposing the three former ministers indulging in ‘the act of shame.’ The committee has also doubted the intention of the channel in telecasting the act by the three tainted ministers.

One of the five written questions asked to the journalist is: “Is it proper to capture indecent/unnecessary subjects by using cameras though you have obtained permission to only report the proceedings of the Assembly? What was the intention behind it?”

The panel, in one of the questions, sought to know whether telecasting such events from the House does not amount to misuse of professional skill and whether it is fair to telecast such events, despite being fully aware that they were in bad taste and unparliamentary.

The Committee, which held its second meeting on Wednesday, also sought to know from the journalist whether he was aware that telecasting such events amounts to clear violation of Sections 16, 17 and 20 of the rule governing the press gallery in the Assembly.

When the TV journalist sought to know why the Committee has only four members instead of seven, the chairman is learnt to have curtly told him that he was not supposed to ask any questions, but only take questions posed to him.

The legislature secretariat, after the porngate episode, has given a push to an old proposal to have a TV channel of its own instead of allowing private TV channels to record or telecast live the proceedings of the two Houses. In Parliament, only Lok Sabha TV is allowed to telecast the proceedings.

The questions posed
* Purpose for which representatives of your organisation had taken permission to enter the Assembly hall.

* Is it proper to capture indecent/unnecessary subjects by using cameras though you have obtained permission to only report the proceedings of the Assembly? What was the intention behind it?

* Is it fair to videotape events other than the proceedings by misusing the professional skill and sensationalising such events, despite being fully aware that the clippings are unparliamentary and recorded without obtaining the permission of the Speaker?

* Are you aware that telecasting indecent, unnecessary clippings and events in bad taste amounts to clear violation of Sections 16, 17 and 20 of the rule governing the press gallery?

* The Indian Constitution guarantees right to speech and expression. Still, is it proper to telecast and sensationalise such incidents in the interest of public decency?

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