Tuesday, March 21, 2023
HomeOpinionTele-scopeTV channels went from being investigator, judge to ‘accused’, ‘victim’. And news...

TV channels went from being investigator, judge to ‘accused’, ‘victim’. And news returned

Could it be that Indian news channels realised that their SSR trials had no proof to back allegations? Or did the Modi govt send them an off-the-record message?

Text Size:

Well, well, well, what have we here?

‘Rahul Gandhi: warned Health Minister about Covid…’ (NDTV 24×7)

‘Terrorists come out of madrasas—MP minister’ (India TV)

‘Multi-crore cricket scam — NC alleges ‘vendetta’ (Times Now)

‘Pakistan Uprising – Endgame Imran?’ (India Today)

‘Battle for Bihar- Tejashwi’s Spin to Bihar wars’ (CNN News18)

‘India SL joint exercise — Jolt to China’s SL plot?’ (NewsX)

‘Rats in ICU — TN govt hospital mess’ (Mirror Now)

‘Shivraj Chouhan lashes out at Kamal Nath for ‘item’ remark’ (Zee News)

‘Gangrape of minor in Rajasthan’ (Republic TV)

And, in prime time news, two interviews with Home Minister Amit Shah (News18 India, Zee News), a Bihar opinion poll on India Today, and an address to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday.

Whatever happened to #JusticeForSushant? Where’s our daily evening dose of ‘BollywoodDrugCartel’, starring peddler of all evil, Rhea Chakraborty? A visit to 15 of the major news channels in Hindi and English, this week, ended in disappointment: not one of them was trailing Rhea, speaking to Sushant Singh Rajput’s family or its ubiquitous lawyer Vikas Singh, cross-examining his cook, guard, or his bedclothes….

Instead, they were reporting the events and developments of the day.

After approximately three months of non-stop investigations, stings, exposes, leaks, and WhatsApp chats, news channels have abandoned the Rajput saga to the investigative agencies and left viewers bemused—what was that all about? Are we any the wiser about SSR‘s death than we were in June, when he died, allegedly by suicide? The simple two-letter answer: No.

So, what has made them forsake the actor, his family’s cause, which they embraced as their own, and leave the viewer hanging on the edge of a cliffhanger?

Also read: Sushant’s life was middle class fairytale with anti-climactic end, media found a saleable news

A messy battle

Could it be that Indian news channels, ultimately, realised that their SSR trials had found no conclusive proof to back the allegations, from any agency, and that it was time to move on?

Could it be that the Narendra Modi government sent them a message, off the record, of course? When asked almost identical questions by News18 India and Zee News regarding TV news this week, the Home Minister said that while he didn’t want to interfere in the media’s role, there ought to be some ‘balance’ in its coverage — there should be no ‘media trial’ or extending coverage simply for TRPs. He also referred to news channels’ propensity to focus on one story for an entire day.

Could it be the long hand of the law, reaching out ominously towards them? From the Supreme Court to the Delhi and Mumbai High Courts, judges have raised questions about television news coverage of SSR and the Delhi riots. The Supreme Court has gone so far as to worryingly suggest a regulatory authority for broadcast news —the last thing anyone wants (the last being government interference).

Or is it the cases filed by celebrities against TV news that has shaken their firm resolve to solve Rajput’s ‘murder’? Sandeep Ssingh, Rakul Preet Singh have led the way here, and then there’s the case by Bollywood filmmakers and industry unions against two popular TV news channels, asking them to avoid using “irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks…”.

Also read: BARC ‘highly disappointed’ with Republic, says network misrepresented its private email

The Mumbai Police has also launched cases involving the leader of the pack, Republic TV. From the Palghar lynching case to the alleged TRP scam, it has gone after Arnab Goswami and his reporters in an unedifying spectacle, which has seen the Mumbai Police Commissioner, Param Bir, hold a press conference on the subject. Subsequently, news channels declared war on each other — ‘Republic rigged ratings (Times Now), ‘Republic Bharat destroys Aaj Tak (Republic TV)’ and Republic channels spend entire days reporting news about themselves — ‘Param Bir went on record and lied about Republic’ one day, and sting operations on the Congress and a Maharashtra government minister on others.

In a strange twist of fate, the investigators, prosecutors, and judges — aka news channels — have suddenly become the ‘accused’ or ‘victim’. When the TRP scam broke a fortnight ago, Republic TV roared like a wounded lion that Mumbai Police was victimising it—ironic since the Mumbai Police has complained that news channels maligned its SSR investigation.

Other news channels say they are the casualties of Republic’s alleged TRP scam that robbed them of precious rating points — and most of them feel ill done by criticism for pursuing the ‘truth’ about SSR and drugs in Bollywood.

Also read: More Indian journalists prefer to tweet than go on the field to report — it suits the govt

Change, for better or worse

So, #JusticeforSSR has now become a #TargetArnabPlot, and TV news channels that had staged a high voltage melodrama around Rajput’s death have ended up making a spectacle of themselves right before our disbelieving eyes.

Whatever be the reasons for the change of heart, we are back to watching something like actual news on the Bihar elections, the farm bills, Kamal Nath’s distasteful ‘item’ number comment, actor Vijay being trolled out of the Muralitharan biopic 800, besides the usual targets: Congress, China, and Pakistan. Just like old times…

If you feel the need for some hyperventilation, switch to Bigg Boss, back with Season 14 (Colors). It’s as manic as ever, presided over by the only calm person on the set, actor Salman Khan. More and more, the reality show resembles a madhouse where Khan holds a weekend group therapy session during which the contestants analyse each other and themselves.

The rest of the time, they simply snarl, swear, shout, or sob. This time there’s actress Nikki Tamboli as the arch villain, actor Eijaz Khan as the joker of the pack, model Abhinav Shukla and singer Rahul Vaidya as the quarrelsome two, model-turned-actor Gauahar Khan as the voice of sweet reasonableness — and guess what — actor Siddharth Shukla, last year’s naughty boy winner is back.



Views are personal.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. Every journalist is trying to project himself as neutral and independent.
    The media will go no from being investigator, judge to ‘accused’, ‘victim’ whatever serves the monitory interest.. And news is secondary.

    • Maybe now, but do check the older articles from this author. She still attempted to hold a neutral viewpoint when lighting a fire under random people with no shred of evidence for, effectively, $, when #JusticeForSSR was trending.
      Also kindly refrain from shouting, it gets awkward to read 😅

  2. Viewers have a choice of watching or ignoring any channel, irrespective of who is dishing out what. In this scenario, why should one bother about Republic or NDTV or any other channel, including myriad YouTube channels.. Similarly, no advertiser is an idiot and depends solely on TRP numbers. Finally, it is the net profit that will determine the business and longevity of any channel.

    Considering all these points, the controversy is irrelevant.

    • No advertiser may be an idiot, but most certainly you are to write such comment either without reading the column, or without understanding it. Nowhere the author says that the viewers DON’T have a choice of watching or ignoring any channel. You may not bother about Republic or NDTV or any other channel, but many others, including the courts, most certainly do! You may not understand, but TRP NUMBERS do count, otherwise the channels like Republican wouldn’t have engaged in criminal activities of boosting their channel’s TRP numbers.

      You seem to have problem understanding even simple things that, the net profit alone will not determine the business and longevity of any channel. The court may order the channel CLOSED if it continues it continues its criminal activity to boost its TRP numbers, no matter how much net profit the channel is making.

Comments are closed.

Most Popular