The Editors Guild of India on Monday said it is “pained” to see FIRs being filed against journalists of Republic TV, under probe for alleged TRP manipulation, and asserted that the “victimization of the journalists” must immediately stop.
In a statement, the Guild also called on the channel to behave responsibly and not compromise the safety of its journalists as well as hurt the collective credibility of media.
The Editors Guild of India said it is “pained to see the unedifying spectacle” of hundreds of FIRs being filed against journalists of Republic TV, which is under probe for allegedly manipulating TRPs and spreading discontent against the Mumbai police.
“We do not wish to influence the probe by the authorities, even if we recognise it has the potential to bring in much needed transparency on the manipulation of popularity, and creation of ‘proceeds of crime’ as claimed by the police; but the victimization of the journalists should immediately stop,” the Guild said.
The use of arbitrary state power is not and has never been in the interests of working journalists, the statement said.
“This standoff between the Mumbai Police and the TV channel is unprecedented and threatens the tenuous but important to maintain balance between media freedom and the imperative for it to reside within the rule of law. Right to free speech does not mean a licence to promote hate speech, the statement read.
The Guild also noted that the channel’s “high-strung conduct” in actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
“Besides the unsavoury details pertaining to the manipulation of TRPs, the Republic TV’s high-strung conduct during the unfortunate demise of film actor Sushant Singh Rajput also raises issues about media credibility and the limits to reporting,” the statement said.
The police must ensure that its investigation does not hurt the channel’s journalists or make any arrests, the Guild said, adding that the investigation should not become a tool to suppress media rights.
An FIR was registered against four journalists of Republic TV in Mumbai on Friday for allegedly defaming the Mumbai police and trying to cause “disaffection” among members of the police force.