Prasar Bharati’s threat to PTI over China-aggression related interviews seems to confuse journalistic prerogative for loyalty.
Prasar Bharati’s threat to cancel its contract with news agency PTI over two interviews relating to the recent India-China stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is a symptom of an old malaise—confusing journalism with loyalties. While one interview, with Indian envoy in Beijing, created a controversy since the ambassador insisted that China should move back to its side of the LAC, contradicting the PM’s assurance to the nation that India has ceded no territory to China, the other interview, with the Chinese envoy in New Delhi, was a plain vanilla one; indeed, the envoy admitted to Chinese casualties in the skirmish in Galwan Valley. What got Prasar Bharati to see red was the Chinese embassy put a truncated version of the interview on its website. Immediately, Prasar Bharati questioned the loyalties of PTI, terming its coverage not be in the national interest.
While some rudimentary, coarse sense can still be teased out of politicians calling for a ban on Chinese food to get back against China, the same can’t be said for Prasar Bharati’s irrational “nationalism”. What it seems to be arguing goes against even the flimsiest understanding of the ethos of the journalism and the role the media is supposed to play. And, it is for such reasons—Prasar Bharati has for decades been successive ruling dispensations’ fiefdom—that it has lost its credibility. There is a reason that other public broadcasters like BBC have done well, whereas Prasar Bharti, which was modelled on the same lines, has languished. Would the BBC be asked not to interview Taliban leaders or ISIS members, or to cancel contracts with UK wire services that do?