Jamie Angus, the BBC World Service Group Director, in conversation with ThePrint | Nikhil Hajirnis
Jamie Angus, the BBC World Service Group Director, in conversation with ThePrint | Nikhil Hajirnis
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New Delhi: Responding to Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati’s refusal to attend an awards function organised by the BBC over its coverage of the Delhi violence, Jamie Angus, the BBC World Service Group Director, said the broadcaster stands by its reportage.

In an interview to ThePrint, Angus said BBC was willing to face consequences for covering events on the ground in a manner it thought was “independent”.

“We were sorry that he (Vempati) didn’t feel able to join us but think that it is right that we continue to report accurately and independently on events as we find them. And we are happy to take the consequences of that,” Angus said.

In the letter dated 4 March and addressed to BBC Director General Tony Hall, Vempati said he must “respectfully” decline the broadcaster’s invite to him for the ‘BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year’ awards on 8 March over its Delhi riots reportage.

The letter written by Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati to the BBC

In the letter, Vempati said he was “dismayed” at the BBC’s “one-sided version” on the Delhi violence. He also said the reportage cast aspersions on the “brave men and women in uniform”, further vitiating the atmosphere further rather than breaking the cycle of violence.

Speaking about the riots, Angus said the past few weeks had been difficult and tense not only for the Indian media but several foreign journalists too. But it was “BBC’s duty to report India fairly to the international audiences”, he added.

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Also read: Man arrested for hatching conspiracy to incite communal riots in northeast Delhi


BBC vs India media’s coverage of Delhi riots 

Angus said there was an “intense and emotional Indian media scene” when it came to matters of communal violence, but admitted it was difficult to generalise such a claim. He especially pointed out news coverage by Hindi channels and said many tended to be “incredibly emotional” on the subject.

BBC does not enter into the emotional psycho drama element. People come to us for another reason — because we are dispassionate, independent and don’t have a stake or agenda on issues like these,” he added.

Angus also noted that BBC’s English news website was blocked by certain telecom providers after its coverage of the Delhi riots. But the ban was soon lifted, he said, adding there was no official communication from the Indian government on any breach by the broadcaster.

BBC is a large and robust…organisation to withstand pressure. And I think that is sometimes missing in national markets. National news organisation can often be put under intense pressure — whether it is regulatory, commercial or political pressure — to drop stories,” Angus added.

Reporting on Kashmir

This isn’t the first time that BBC has been criticised for its coverage of events in India. The broadcaster came under intense scrutiny for its reportage on Jammu and Kashmir after Article 370 was scrapped in the region.

While the home ministry claimed that BBC had published a “fabricated” video of large-scale protests in Srinagar’s Soura area, the Indian Army denied its report of Kashmiris being tortured by personnel.

Responding to these allegations, Angus said, “We stand by our reportage in both Delhi and Kashmir.”

Angus explained that the broadcaster played a unique role in highlighting how “both sides (India and Pakistan) see Kashmir”, which is what its audiences come to see. “The unique role of the BBC is that it can bring audiences together to understand each others points of view.”

He added that it wasn’t only in India that the BBC has been accused of peddling fake news but in other nations too when it did not “suit people’s agenda”. The BBC, he claimed, has also debunked many fake news that were being circulated in the form of videos.


Also read: Malayalam channels MediaOne TV, Asianet News banned for 48 hours over Delhi riots coverage


Role of BBC in India 

There wasn’t any difference in way the BBC operated in India, be it under the Narendra Modi government or the previous regimes, Angus said.

“Wherever BBC operates, we do within local regulations and laws. And will continue to do that here in India. One of the things that strikes me about India is the vibrant and thriving press environment in the country. There is a lot of original and bold journalism being done in India,” he said.

Angus underscored BBC’s commitment to bringing out stories from India to the rest of the world and moving beyond the purview of hard news.

“We have almost 300 journalists in India and have recently launched news services in four new languages. There has been a big jump in our audiences. Currently, India is our largest country audience,” he added.


Also read: Don’t question Sikhs helping Muslims. We know what hate is and does


 

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13 Comments Share Your Views

13 COMMENTS

  1. Woohoo…! 👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾
    More Power to him! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

    I’ve already heard of him but can’t believe now that a media-executive can be so fearless, like as if he genuinely came from a media-background and without a BBA/MBA paper-qualification!

    His comments were as well balanced and yet, not sugarcoated.
    Whilst the [B][B][C]® as a whole may not be saint, because even terms like ‘always’, ‘balanced scales’, ‘humanity’, ‘neutral’ and ‘unbiased’ are mere theoretical concepts with either no substance, or with antithetical implications — but compared to Prasar Bharati® somewhat reminiscing the past by “fellow […] of global-repute”, they’re indeed a veritable saint. The only uncontested blind-spot of theirs is when having to do with the UK monarchy.
    And Prof Sinha’s comment here are literally sounding much like the laziest rendition of “professing”, a speechmaking-politico who’s as far from an academician as it can get — not a genuinely dispassionate one. In other words, much like his peers in “SuSwamy”, “Pai” and NRI-in-a-non-Sanaatani-majority-society “Malhotra”( no salutations for either!; the last of whom jointly colloborated on “non-fiction” grievance-manual published in 2007 by Rupa®).
    But wait.. The cookie-cutter, unthreaded-tweet by our “Prof” sounds even worse than their vetted works! In fact, it sounds equitable to one of the comments made on the suspicious TRT®’s YouTube® Churnalism.

  2. It is amazing how BBC’s Jamie Angus blatantly lie on camera with confidence. It is evident how BBC has reported lopsided to create fear among Muslims and fan violence in the country. More surprising is how Indian govt letting BBC and other biased western media continue to operate in the country. They should be audited and suspended immediately. I’ts leading fake news media and it’s only aim is to hurt Indian image internationally.

    • They “should be audited”: Ahh…

      In your ( probably) hyperventilated zest to check the boxes of your preconceived-notions/presuppositions bolstered by your opinion-leaders/-makers in order to nourish your worldview..

      …You made one slip-up!
      And that, “my friend” is technically dubbed: Freudian slip!

  3. BBC has a strong bias against India and especially Hindus. Every audience who has regularly listened and watched the BBC easily can identify it.

  4. Just shows the hubris of Western Media it is again the days of God, gold and glory. The fabricated news on Kashmir has not been played enough on Indian media that is the reason they get away with this racist behaviour with straight face. Nor is the coverage compared with other countries. Pakistan did allow access but it was fine in Balakot..no western journalist dared go on ground. My many comments by print has not passed through because of slave mentality of Indian media.

  5. It is really laughable for Prasar Bharati i.e. Doordarshan to claim to be a Public Service broadcaster “of global repute”.
    Everyone recognises it as a mouthpiece of the government which regularly broadcasts propaganda and motivated viewpoints.

    • Uh-huh…!

      Wrong article.

      But couldn’t agree more on the sentiment! You should check-out my comment on the relevant article which where I went more severely and in-depth of Mr CEO’s bonkers claims.
      Hindi idiom/proverb/saying of “Gangu Teli” comes to mind.

  6. Give me one good reason why the BBC – or virtually all of the global media that is independent and credible – should have a bias against India.

    • Nowadays show me any major non western country that is not rougue as per Western media. China, India, Russia, Brazil, South Africa. But Brexit was most cosmopolitan. Do you know how muslim refugees are being handled in Greece right now. It mot even on BBC main page.

      • We should complain about others when we have issue at our own home. I’m not favoring Muslim or Hindu or Any religion. Every person born in India has equal right. Government should focus on Jobs, Economy, Education, Healthcare etc. It’s not going to take too long to turn India into Middle East if government start this kind of religion crap of Hindu, Muslim etc.

    • Haha..! 👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾

      Whilst your phraseology ‘good reason’ falls short, since ‘good reason’ is predicated on one’s own worldview..

      …I couldn’t agree more on the sentiment, though! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

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