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Press Release

BEA concerned over growing incidents of assault on media

Press Statement : New Delhi, 03.03.2012

Fact-finding team to visit Bangalore

The Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) has expressed serious concern over the growing incidents of attack on media by groups, institutions and those holding constitutional positions. “There seems a pattern in all these incidents suggesting that an attempt is sought to be made to frighten the media into submission particularly because it works in most sublime public interest”, the apex body of electronic media professionals in the country said in a press release on Saturday.

The BEA feels that the manner in which a House–Committee of Karnataka assembly summoned some editors of TV channels and the tone and tenor of the questions asked of the editors were not in consonance with elementary principles on which pillars of democracy rest. By showing visuals of MLAs allegedly watching pornographic material on mobile phones right when the Assembly proceedings were underway, the channels had worked to serve the most important public interest which overrides all other institutional and individual privileges.

Similarly, in the State capital, Bangalore, journalists were badly beaten up allegedly by lawyers and goons when the former were discharging their professional duty. What was more shocking for the BEA was the response of the Karnataka Chief Minister who reportedly justified the incident.

In Jammuand Kashmir Assembly, the Speaker is said to have claimed in the House that media is subservient to the State Assembly. The BEA feels that such assertions not only show ignorance of those running democratic institutions but also expose their contempt for freedom of expression which is a fundamental right guaranteed to every citizen under Article 19(1) (a). The comment of the Speaker came when some ministers objected to media reporting on malfunctioning of their respective departments.

The BEA also expresses concern at the beating up of a reporter of Star Ananda and other journalists allegedly by the ruling Trinamool Congress workers in Jadhavpur, West Bengal. The Editors of the apex body of the electronic channels also noted with a sense of outrage the subsequent reaction by the state Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee who said that the incident “was a cook-up”.

All the above mentioned incidents and concomitant responses from those holding high and constitutional positions only establish the contempt that powers-that-be have for the media in particular and freedom of expression and public interest in general.

As it is the prime duty of the media to work in utmost public interest, the BEA has decided to constitute a five-member fact-finding committee to go into the Karnataka Assembly incident and subsequent developments. The Committee will be headed by Mr. N K Singh, General Secretary, BEA.

After meeting relevant persons and collecting materials and evidence, the Committee will submit its report within a week. A BEA delegation will meet the Speaker of the Lok Sabha Ms Meira Kumar who is also chairperson of the All India  Speakers’ Conference.

03.03.2012. 06:42

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