There has been plenty of buzz in recent days that the Congress-led UPA government has quietly begun hitting back at the media for the manner in which it has exposed the scams and scandals, and for the proactive manner in which it backed the middle-class led “Arnab Spring” under Anna Hazare.
There have been rumours, for instance, of the Union information and broadcasting ministry actually proposing a ceiling on the number of minutes a news channel can show a specific news event and so on. Now, as if to show that the messenger is indeed being wilfully targetted, these two stories have emerged in the last two days.
Exhibit A: Nora Chopra‘s item in The Sunday Guardian (above), which talks of the government making things difficult for cross-media groups like The Times of India and India Today.
“We advised ad-sales to seek an appointment with I&B minister Ambika Soni. It was a pleasant surprise when the ad-sales executives immediately got a slot to meet the minister.
“Soni was pleasant enough. She told our guys she was unaware of any DAVP action; but in any case the government was rationalizing the flow of ads to English and language newspapers.
“Her body language, according to the ad-sales team, suggested otherwise. And then, during a general chat about the newspaper, she came to the point: she said that DNA ought to look at its coverage over the past few weeks and introspect….
Soni’s statement led us to infer that our Anna Hazare coverage was being punished by a suspension of government ads, and that Soni met our ad executives just to ensure the point was driven home.”
For the record, a point Sinha artfully sidesteps, DNA has been in the government’s crosshairs for an incendiary and imbecilic column written by the Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy after the July 13 bomb blasts in Bombay.
For the record, DNA is part-owned by Subhash Chandra‘s Zee group, some of whose journalists (present and past) played a key role in the media management of Hazare’s fast.
And, also for the record, Ambika Soni traces her Congress origins to Sanjay Gandhi, whose role in ushering in press censorship during the Emergency in 1975, has been long documented.
Image: courtesy The Sunday Guardian
Read the full piece: Ambika Soni‘s arm-twisting
Also read: How The Times of India pumped up Team Anna