Editors Guild decry bid to throttle media

Editors Guild decry bid to throttle media

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Wednesday decried “all attempts on the part of the government” to interfere in the free and independent functioning of journalists, taking note of the resignation of two senior journalists of electronic media recently.

Various other journalists bodies including Press Association and Indian Women's Press Corps also expressed concern over “interference” in the work of media following the resignation of the two senior journalists on alleged interference “by sections within the Union government,” saying it was indicative of “a systemic erosion” of the freedom of press.

Senior journalists Milind Khandekar and Punya Prasun Bajpai recently resigned from a news channel. Bajpai later said he was asked by his employer to avoid making references to Prime Minister Narendra Modi while criticising government policies.

“The past few days have seen senior journalists of at least two electronic media channels come out in the open to assert that their employers attempted to either tailor or tone down their content to make it less critical of the government, leaving them no choice other than resigning,” the EGI said in a statement.

The Editors' Guild also took serious exception to some “recent instances” where signals of television programmes critical of the (Union) government “have seemingly been blocked or disrupted. in a manner almost Orwellian.”

“Such attempts strike at the root of media freedom and indeed the foundations of our democracy. These undermine the right to be informed and to hold the establishment accountable. This seems a brazen attempt to punish 'unfriendly' news channels and silence inconvenient voices,” the Guild said.

It demanded that the government should take note of “these instances” of disruptions in television programme signals, investigate “and explain” as to how and under what circumstances these “egregious violations are taking place.”

“Suitable action must be taken against those who were responsible for such nefarious activities aimed at throttling media freedom. It must also assure the nation that either directly or through any proxies or agencies it isn't involved in this activity. And if it isn't, these saboteurs must be brought to book. Freedom of airwaves cannot be tampered with,” the EGI added.

The editors’ body also decried “the tendency” on the part of the government, and the political class in general, to use “selective denial of journalistic access as a weapon.”

“This has become worse when there are few opportunities to ask questions to those in public life or in official positions on public platforms like press conferences, which is a legitimate democratic right of journalists on behalf of all citizens. Denying this right and shunning journalists critical of you are unhealthy practices in a democracy, it said.

The guild demanded that such an “unhealthy and unfair practice” must be avoided.

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