New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India on Wednesday demanded action against those “throttling media freedom” and condemned the “blocking or interference” in the transmission of television content that is seen to be “critical” of the government. The Editors’ body issued the statement days after two journalists at ABP News Network quit the organisation.
“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,” said the Editors’ body in the statement.
The Guild said it decries all attempts on the part of the government to “interfere” in the free and independent functioning of journalists, either by putting them under pressure directly or through the proprietors.
“Even more worrying are the recent instances where signals of television programmes critical of the government have seemingly been blocked or disrupted in a manner almost Orwellian,” it read.
The Guild demanded that the government must take note of these instances of “disruptions” in television programme signals, investigate and explain 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 (government) 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 statement said.
The body further said that one TV channel had also shared with the Guild screen-shots and details indicating such interferences.
“Such attempts strike at the roots of media freedom and indeed the foundations of our democracy” and it seems there is “a brazen attempt to punish unfriendly news channels and silence inconvenient voices,” the Guild said.
The Editors Guild of India said it is also “pained and agitated” to learn of the detention of Shahidul Alam, eminent photographer and educator, in Dhaka under the provisions of the Information and Communication Technology Act of Bangladesh. The Guild called Alam’s detention “arbitrary and unreasonable” and demanded his immediate and unconditional release.