Molestation and more: Under fire for way they treat news live
On January 21, 2008, when Guwahati's first satellite TV news channel was launched in a glittering function, those behind it vowed not only to make it a mirror of society but also to try and bring the people of the Northeast into the national mainstream.
Over the last few days, as the nation discusses the sexual assault of a woman on the streets of the Assam capital, it is this channel, NewsLive, that has come into focus for the role it played.
There have been allegations that one of its reporters orchestrated the molestation. This has led to resignations not only by Gaurav Jyoti Neog, the NewsLive off-duty reporter who "happened to pass by" when the molestation happened, but also by its editor-in-chief, Atanu Bhuyan.
"I have serious doubts about a fair investigation, especially after the chief minister made a remark accusing my reporter," said Bhuyan who, having quit as editor-in-chief, will remain on the board of directors of NewsLive, a "dream project" of Pride East Entertainments Pvt Ltd. The board is headed by Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, wife of health minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma, as the CMD, while Atanu Bhuyan is one of four directors.
The website of NewsLive says "objectivity blended with reliability" is the channel's hallmark. "Sensitively treating stories and pepping up with crisp scripts, creative editing, and smart voice-overs [are] our forte. Our priority is to bring to the fore stories that affect common people – it [need not] be necessarily politics or crime, but also social issues of relevance," it says.
Each of Guwahati's five satellite channels, like many elsewhere, speak about objectivity and fairness but many have challenged how far they stick to those objectives.
"The print media had its shortcomings, but newspapers never contributed towards any serious social degradation the way these TV channels have in just five years," said Haider Hussain, editor-in-chief of Asomiya Pratidin, the largest Assamese daily newspaper. "With the sudden proliferation of TV, there is also an increasing tendency of distorting the facts."
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